Okwe Obi and Benjamin Babine, Abuja
Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Social Development and Disaster Management, Sadiya Umar Farouq, has disassociated herself and ministry from alleged diversion of N2.72 billion budgeted for the feeding of students of Federal Government Colleges during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and other Offences related Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, had disclosed the graft during the second National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in Abuja.
However, Farouq, in a statement, yesterday said the report by the ICPC boss was “twisted and misinterpreted by mischief makers and directed at the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs” as the ministry’s school feeding programme was restricted to primaries 1-3 pupils and not Federal Government owned colleges.
She also called on the ICPC to publish names of persons, federal colleges and school heads whose names have been found to be associated with the missing funds and also freeze the accounts where the funds were diverted to.
“The ministry 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.
“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. That the ICPC recovered N16 billion worth of assets from the said ministry which was paid into an individual account for non-official purposes and not the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.”
However, ICPC has denied that its boss acused the minister of diverting monies meant for school feeding programme.
A statement by ICPC spokesperson, Mrs Azuka Ogogua said: “The Commission wishes to clarify that the school feeding referred to by the Chairman of ICPC was the feeding of boarding students in Federal Government Colleges, who were all at home during the COVID-19 lockdown. This is not the Home-Grown School Feeding Programme being managed by the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.
“The Commission had discovered through its review of publications on the Open Treasury Portal that statutory monthly allocations meant for the feeding of secondary school students of some Federal Government Colleges were diverted into personal accounts. This statement is issued for the purpose of clarifying the statement of the Chairman. Consequently, the general public is hereby advised to disregard the said reports suggesting reference to the school feeding programme going on in primary schools.”