Few days to Nigeria’s 60th Independence Anniversary, the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, made an eye-popping revelation last Monday while delivering a keynote address at the second National Summit on Diminishing Corruption with the theme: “Together Against Corruption and Launch of the National Ethics and Integrity Policy” at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The don stated that ICPC had uncovered a fraud in the famed school feeding programme of the Federal Government being implemented by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development up to N2.67billion. This was an outcome of Open Treasury Portal review carried out between January to August 15, 2020, out of 268 Ministries, Departments and Agendas (MDAs).
According to him, “We observed that transfers to sub-TSA was to prevent disbursement from being monitored. Nevertheless, we discovered payments to some federal colleges for school feeding in the sum of N2.67 billion during lockdown when the children are not in school, and some of the money ended up in personal accounts. We have commenced investigations into these finding.”
The ICPC boss shocked the world further when he went deeper saying, that “Some of the discoveries include life payment of bulk sums to individuals/staff accounts, including project funds; non-deductions/remittance of taxes and IGR; payments of unapproved allowances, bulk payment to micro finance banks, payment of arrears of salary and other allowances of previous years from 2020 budget, payment of salary advance to staff, under-deduction of PAYE and payment of promotion arrears due to surplus in Personnel Cost, abuse and granting of cash advances above the approved threshold and irregular payment of allowances to principal officers”.
This is indeed mind-blowing. What is however interesting is that the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouk, has denied that anything like that happened. In her reaction to the ICPC’s boss’ allegation, she countered saying that, ”The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development hereby inform the public that the Federal Government Colleges school feeding in question is different from the Home Grown School Feeding which is one of its Social Investment Programmes.
“The School Feeding under scrutiny is feeding of students in Federal Government Colleges across the country and is not under the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs which only oversees Home Grown School Feeding for children in Primaries 1-3 in select public schools across the country.
“The N2.5 billion which was reportedly misappropriated by a senior civil servant (name withheld) took place in a different ministry and not the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development”, she demanded.
How can this type of open admission to corruption crime go without a strong presidential questioning? Why? If the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs is not responsible for administering the allegedly diverted fund, which ministry or agency is it?
This is one scandal President Muhammadu Buhari must deal with urgently. Nigerians deserves to know the details. Let the ICPC boss and the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs be therefore invited to give details what they know about the missing billions. There is a need for a thorough probe.