ICPC discovers N2.67bn school feeding fund in private accounts — Chairman


…mention the culprits, Humantarian Affairs Minister tells ICPC boss

By Ogaga Ariemu and Tobi Adetunji

The Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, (ICPC) Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, said the agency has discovered N2.67 billion meant for the school feeding programme in private accounts.

The agency, he added, also found over N2.5 billion diverted by a deceased worker with the ministry of agriculture, noting that 18 buildings, 12 business premises, and 25 plots of land, were also recovered in the ministry.

Owasanoye disclosed this in Abuja on Monday, at the second National Summit on diminishing corruption in the public sector, which was organised in collaboration with the Office of the Secretary of the Government of the Federation.

The summit themed, ‘Together against corruption,’ also included the launch of the National Ethics and Integrity Policy.

Under the Open Treasury Portal review carried out between January to August 15, 2020, he said 72 out of 268 ministries, departments, and agencies had cumulative infractions of N90 million.

According to him, while 33 MDAs tendered explanations that N4.1 billion was transferred to sub-Treasury Single Account, N4.2billion paid to individuals had no satisfactory explanations.

He stated, “We observed that transfers to sub-TSA were 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 this finding.”

The ICPC chairman also said under its 2020 constituency and executive projects tracking initiative, 722 projects with a threshold of N100 million (490 ZiP and 232 executive) were tracked across 16 states.

He noted that the constituency tracking project of the agency compelled 59 contractors to return to sites, adding that the individuals handling the projects worth N2.25 billion had abandoned the projects before the ICPC’s intervention.

In the meantime, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and social development, Sadiya Umar Farouq has dissociated herself and her office from the recovered loot.

In a press release last night, the Minister  noted that the statement by ICPC was twisted and misinterpreted by mischief makers and directed at the Ministry

The statement signed by the Special Adviser on media to the Minister, Nneka Anibeze read, “The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development hereby informs 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. That 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 statement read further, “The Ministry or the Minister does not even handle or disburse funds for Home Grown School Feeding HGSF. That money for funding the Programme neither passes through the Minister nor the ministry. That the  over 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.

To prove her innocence, the Minister challenged the ICPC boss to mention the names of the culprits and freeze the accounts where such funds are deposited just as she calls those casting aspersion on the ministry as unfair and malicious.

“The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs therefore calls on the general public to disregard the false reports being linked to the ministry as it is not in any way involved in the Federal Government Colleges School Feeding” the statement read.