The Federal Government has ordered anti-graft agency, the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) to investigate an alleged missing N2.67 billion earmarked for feeding of school pupils during the outbreak of Covid-19 in the country.
Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, announced this in a statement on Tuesday.
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, (ICPC) had raised an alarm that N2.67 billion released to 104 Unity Colleges during the lockdown for meal subsidies were in the accounts of private individuals.
But in a statement by the Director, Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Education, Ben Goong, principals of the 104 colleges said payments on meal subsidies to Unity Colleges on the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System, (GIFMIS) platform was designed in such a way that specific officers in each school are designated to receive such payments and thereafter disburse same to food vendors.
The reason for this, according to the principals, is because of the bureaucracy of facilitating payments to the various food vendors, farmers and market women who do not have Tax Identification Numbers (TIN), PENCOM, and other requirements needed to access the payment platform.
In the statement, the principals also claimed 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,” the statement added.