The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, has directed a full investigation into the report of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on how N2.67 billion released for school feeding of the 104 Unity Colleges during the COVID-19 lockdown found its way into individual accounts.
Mr Adamu in a statement signed by the spokesperson of the federal ministry of education, Ben Gooong, said the investigation is compulsory in order to establish the ‘’veracity of the claims and to ensure that there is no diversion of public funds or misappropriation of same.”
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the chairperson of the anti-graft agency, Bolaji Owasanoye, said investigations done by the ICPC had shown that the said funds were diverted into private accounts.
“We discovered payment of N2.67 billion during lockdown when the children were not in school, and some money ended up in personal accounts. We have commenced investigations into these findings,” he said.
However, the education minister said the principals explained that payments made during the lockdown period had to do with debts owed food vendors even before COVID-19, ‘some of which are still pending.’
“In response to queries issued by the Federal Ministry of Education, the Principals explained that payments on meal subsidies to Unity Colleges on the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System, (GIFMIS) platform is designed to accommodate individual officers of those colleges who are officially recognized to receive such payments and disburse the same to food vendors. This followed difficulties encountered by farmers, local food vendors, and market women who do not have Tax Identification Numbers (TIN), PENCOM, and other requirements to access the payment platform,” he said.
The minister also said the principals said the debts arose from irregular and inadequate budgetary allocations and releases over the years.
“The ministry, in line with the Minister’s directive, is to collaborate effectively with officials of the ICPC to unearth the facts as well as find a lasting solution to the payment system for meal subsidies that will ensure accountability and transparency,” he said.
PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported how the minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, said she did not misappropriate N2.67 billion meant for feeding school children during the COVID-19 induced lockdown, under the Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP).
The minister said the report from the ICPC was misunderstood.
“The amount traced by the commission on school feeding is not the same as the federal government Home-Grown School Feeding Programme under the Social-National Social Investment Programmes (SIPs),” she said.
Ms Farouq had to issue the clarification when it became obvious the statement of Mr Owasanoye was misconstrued to be an indictment of her ministry which handles the Home Grown School Feeding Programme.
Mr Owasanoye also issued a press statement to clear the air on his earlier tweets which said the alleged diversion was funds budgeted for feeding boarding students in the federal unity schools.
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