Minister orders investigation into ‘N2.67bn school feeding fraud’

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Adamu Adamu, minister of education, has ordered an investigation into the alleged N2.67 billion fraud linked to the school feeding programme of federal government colleges across the country.

Bolaji Owasanoye, chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), had disclosed in September that the said sum which was paid to some federal colleges for school feeding during the COVID-19 lockdown ended up in private bank accounts.

Although Adamu had initially distanced his ministry from the allegation, in a statement issued on Friday by Ben Bem Goong, director of press and public relations, the minister said he had ordered a full-scale investigation into the matter.

He explained that queries have been issued to principals on the allegation to determine if public funds were diverted.

“Following the report of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, (ICPC) that the sum of N2.67 billion released to the 104 Unity Colleges during the COVID-19 lockdown for meal subsidies found its way into individual accounts, Education Minister, Adamu Adamu, has ordered a full-scale investigation into the matter,” the statement read.

“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 recognised to receive such payments and disburse 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.

“The Principals also 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, adding that these debts arose from irregular and inadequate budgetary allocations and releases over the years.

“The investigation is to establish the veracity of the claims to ensure that there is no diversion of public funds or misappropriation of same.

“To this end, 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.”

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