A former Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, has refuted the allegation that he diverted N300 million meant for the provision of medical equipment for the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Gusau, Zamfara State.
In a statement released on Friday and signed by his former Special Assistant on Media and Communication, Dan Nwomeh, Mr Chukwu said the allegation was baseless.
A senator representing Zamfara Central, Kabiru Marafa, had on Tuesday informed the Senate that the N300 million represented the money captured in the 2013 budget for his constituency development project.
He said the former minister diverted the funds to his home state of Enugu, to procure mosquito nets.
Mr Marafa made the allegation when the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, appeared before the Senate over the deteriorating state of teaching hospitals in the country.
He said Mr Adewole had once briefed him about the issue in 2015 when he assumed office as minister.
Mr Chukwu was Minister of Health under former President Goodluck Jonathan between April 2010 and October 2014.
Mr Chukwu said there was no way he could have diverted money ”that was not under the purview of his ministry.”
“Prof. Chukwu recalled how the Director General of the Budget Office wrote a letter to the Federal Ministry of Health in December 2013, quoting a letter earlier written to him by Senator Marafa where he alleged that the ministry had refused to release the said fund.
“Prof. Chukwu said he promptly minuted on the letter to the Permanent Secretary and the Director of Finance and Accounts who stated that there was no such fund with the ministry while producing the schedule of approved projects and funds released from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation as evidence.
“He said that he consequently wrote back to the Director-General of Budget Office in March 2014, apprising him of the situation,” part of the statement read.
According to Mr Chukwu, the Director General of the Budget Office, however, replied in May 2014 insisting that the ministry received the fund ”and should look for it.”
“It was this misleading letter from the Director General of the Budget Office that Senator Marafa had been relying on for his unsubstantiated claims,” he said.
Mr Chukwu said all funds for constituency projects in 2013 and 2014 were handled by the Office of the Minister of Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs.
He urged Mr Marafa to find out from other MDAs how they secured the release of their approved funds for constituency projects at the time.
He said he had instructed his lawyers to look into the allegations and advise him on the next step to take.
In a veiled jab at Mr Marafa, he also cautioned against the abuse of parliamentary privileges.
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