A whopping N2.67 billion school feeding fund has been uncovered to have ended up in private pockets, the Independent Corrupt Practice and Other Related Offences commission (ICPC) reveals.
This revelation was disclosed by ICPC Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, when he gave a keynote address at the second National Summit on Diminishing Corruption with the theme: “Together Against Corruption and Launch of the National Ethics and Integrity Policy,” which held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Monday.
The N2.67 billion payment, said to have ended up in personal accounts, was made to some federal colleges for school feeding during the lockdown, a period when pupils were not in school.
According to Owasanoye, the Open Treasury Portal review carried out between January to August 15, 2020 reveals that cumulative infractions of N90 million was carried out by 72 Ministries, Departments and Agendas (MDAs) out of 268.
He said while 33 MDAs tendered explanations that N4.1 billion was transferred to sub-TSA, N4.2 billion paid to individuals had no satisfactory explanations.
“We observed that transfers to sub-TSA was to prevent disbursement from being monitored.
“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 these finding”, Owasanoye stated.
Also, under agency’s 2020 constituency and executive projects tracking initiative, 722 projects with a threshold of N100 million (490 ZiP and 232 executive) was tracked across 16 states.
He noted that a number of projects described as ongoing in the budget, were found to be new projects that ought to have been excluded in order to enable government complete existing projects; absence of needs assessment resulted in projects recommended for communities that do not require them being abandoned; projects sited in private houses on private land thus appropriating common asset to personal use, hence denying communities of the benefit; absence of synergy between outgoing project sponsors and their successors.
The ICPC chairman said in education sector, 78 MDAs were reviewed and common cases of misuse of funds were uncovered.
Some of the discoveries include life payment of bulk sums to individuals/staff accounts, including project funds; non-deductions/remittance of taxes and IGR; payments of unapproved allowances, bulk payment to micro finance banks, payment of arrears of salary and other allowances of previous years from 2020 budget, payment of salary advance to staff, under-deduction of PAYE and payment of promotion arrears due to surplus in Personnel Cost, abuse and granting of cash advances above the approved threshold and irregular payment of allowances to principal officers.
“We have restrained or recovered by administrative or court interim and final orders assets above N3 billion, facilitated recovery of $173,000 by the whistle blower unit of FMFB&P from an erring oil company, retrained £160,000 in a UK-bank in an ongoing interim forfeiture. This figures exclude quantum of recoveries on return or contractors to site as a result of projects tracking initiatives.
“It should however be noted that some of these assets are subjected to ongoing cases and where suspects proved their cases, physical or liquid assets will be released in accordance with laid down laws, guidelines or court directives.”