Corruption: ICPC traces N2.67 billion school feeding funds to private accounts

ICPC has launched an investigation into how public money meant for feeding schoolchildren ended up in private coffers.

The Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) said it has discovered N2.67 billion meant for President Muhammadu Buhari’s school feeding programme in private accounts.

The news is coming months after the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar-Farouk, who is in charge of the initiative, said school feeding would continue despite coronavirus lockdowns.

Schools are closed because of the lockdowns. How will you feed schoolchildren? Nigerians asked these questions but were apparently ignored by the government.

ICPC Chairman Prof Bolaji Owasanoye has, during an anti-corruption summit on Monday, now suggested the decision encouraged fraud as feared.

He also explained how potential embezzlers bypassed the government’s Single Treasury Account (TSA) to carry our possible thefts of public funds.

ICPC boss Prof Bolaji Owasanoye.

Owasanoye also said that a deceased worker with the ministry of agriculture diverted over N2.5 billion of public funds into private coffers.

He said that the agency recovered 18 buildings, 12 business premises and 25 plots of land.

In an audit carried out between January and August 15, 2020, ICPC said 72 out of 268 ministries, departments, and agencies had infractions totalling N90 million.

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

“We observed that transfers to sub-TSA were to prevent disbursement from being monitored,” he said.

“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,” he said.

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.


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