Fred Itua, Abuja
The Presidency, yesterday, alleged that some traditional rulers and government officials across the country were sabotaging the Social Investment Programme (SIP), popularly called TraderMoney, by collecting bribes from beneficiaries of the N10,000 loan scheme.
Special Adviser to the President on the SIP, Mrs. Maryam Uwais, stated this at the 13th Anti-Corruption Agenda for the ninth National Assembly, organised by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda, UN, Abuja.
Mrs. Uwais lamented that many attempts to ensure the prosecution of the affected persons by security and anti-corruption agencies have not yielded results.
According to her, the states affected include Osun, Kano, Jigawa, Katsina, Benue and Niger.
She said: “There are people in the local government areas and at the state level who have been able to exploit the vulnerability of our beneficiaries.
“Some of those beneficiaries don’t even report because they are thankful for whatever they get and they believe that the people who are trying to take this money from them are actually capable of removing their names from the list.
“They believe that it is better to part with some of the money rather than not getting anything. So, we accept that we need to do a lot of publicity more. Women have no confidence to resist the traditional rulers who are demanding a particular amount from them.
“We asked our monitors to investigate and we discovered that it was true. We are planning to visit all those communities and assure all those women of their protection. We have reported those cases to the security agencies.
“Whether or not the security agencies have been swift or aggressive in their approach is another issue. As far as compiling and submitting our findings to security agencies, we have done our best.
“The BoI (Bank of Industry) has been able to apprehend and report the perpetrators of such acts. We have focal persons in some states that have reported their findings to the EFCC. We have given our statements to the anti-corruption agency.
“The suspects have been invited but I am yet to see any prosecution. We are planning an engagement with the ICPC so that their offices at state level will work with us.
“The Department of State Service has been giving us reports but they are not arresting or prosecuting anybody. They are only giving information. We desire information from members of the public too.
“Some of the affected states are Osun, Kano, Jigawa, Katsina; all of them are being investigated and we have submitted our report. I have also reported Benue and Niger, with evidence forwarded to the law enforcement agencies.”
She further explained how the various interventions of the Federal Government have lifted Nigerians out of poverty: “As for the National Assembly, we have asked how we can sustain our efforts. There is a draft bill we are working on. The National Assembly is not too keen on how monies appropriated are spent at the local levels.”