Sunday, March 26, 2023

How N2.7 billion school feeding money was stolen: ICPC

The anti-graft department says it is working to recover the stolen funds.

• September 29, 2020
ICPC Headquarters, Abuja
ICPC Headquarter, Abuja (Photo Credit: Nigeria Guardian)

Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, ICPC, has uncovered massive fraud in the Federal Government’s school feeding programme.

Bolaji Owasanoye, ICPC chief, says a part of the N2.7 billion earmarked for the scheme during the Covid-19 lockdown was plundered into private accounts.

‌The ICPC “discovered payments to some federal colleges for school feeding in the sum of N2.67bn during lockdown when the children are not in school, and some of the money ended up in personal accounts,” Mr. Owasanoye said at an anti-corruption summit held in Abuja on Monday.

The Federal Government, through the humanitarian ministry, had modified and implemented the Home Grown School Feeding Programme in March 2020.

Following consultations with state governments, the ministry resolved that ‘take-home rations’ was the most viable option for feeding children during the lockdown, and each ration was valued at N4,200.

Analysing a breakdown of the beneficiaries, the humanitarian minister, Sadiya Farouq, had last month explained that a total of 124,589 households received take-home rations valued at N523,273,800 during the lockdown period when school children were at home.

The figures quoted by the minister, however, contradicts the amount disbursed to some federal colleges for school feeding as claimed by the ICPC.

Despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption mantra, the ICPC boss had further revealed that over 70 ministries, departments and agencies had committed cumulative infractions to the tune of N90million between January and August 2020.

He also stated that although 33 MDAs claimed to have transferred N4.1bn to the sub-treasury single account, about N4.2bn paid to individuals were unjustified.

“We observed that transfers to sub-TSA were to prevent disbursement from being monitored”, Mr. Owasanoye added.

The official said his agency had commenced the process of recovering the money. 

The school feeding programme initiated in 2016 by the Buhari administration has been plagued by corruption allegations, but the government said the theft is not sufficient to cancel the programme, which it said has greatly benefitted millions of Nigerian schoolchildren. 

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