The Federal Government has opened an investigation into the report that N2.67 billion meal subsidies released to the 104 Unity Colleges during the COVID-19 lockdown were seen in private accounts.
The Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) Chairman, Bolaji Owasanoye, disclosed on Monday, September 28 at the second National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in the Public Sector, organised in collaboration with the Office of the Secretary General of the Federation, that the commission discovered N2.67 billion meant for the school feeding programme in private accounts.
In a statement issued on Monday by the Director (Press and Public Relations) in the Federal Ministry of Education, Ben Bem Goong, the FG revealed it has ordered a “full-scale investigation” into the issue.
The statement titled, ‘ICPC, Education Ministry to collaborate on Unity Schools investigation’ stated that the investigation is to establish the veracity of the claims to ensure that there is no diversion of public funds or misappropriation of same.
“Following the report of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, 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, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, has ordered a full-scale investigation into the matter.
“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, platform is designed to accommodate individual officers of those colleges who are officially recognized 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, 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,” he said.