…cash moved from cooks’ accounts to strange business accounts …Storekeepers also divert foodstuffsBy Soni Daniel
Despite the attempt by the President Muhammadu Buhari to sanitise the nation’s public service of corruption, many officials manning his signature programmes are still neck-deep in graft, rubbishing the fight and reducing the potency of the success of such programmes to the nation.
Already, the two officials involved in the running of the strategic school feeding programme in Kogi State have been arrested by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission for diverting the sum of N68 million from the accounts meant for the suppliers and cooks for the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme.READ ALSO: Minimum Wage: It is criminal to say you cannot pay, Labour tells governors
According to the ICPC Spokesperson, Rasheedat Okoduwa, the two persons-Agoda Ibrahim and Khaijat Karibo, were arrested following the investigation arising from a petition that the suspects had connived with some banks in Kogi State to commit the financial crime.
The commission said its investigations in conjunction with the National Social Investment Office showed that while Agoda Ibrahim, who was Kogi State Focal Person for the school feeding programme in the state, had left last May, Karibo is still serving as the Kogi State Programme Manager for the programme.
The petition alleged that the duo had actively connived with some unnamed banks and perpetrated “unlawful and unethical deductions” from the accounts of cooks by the use of letters purportedly signed by them conveying their consent that “a blanket and unspecified amount be moved to 10 different business accounts from the cooks’ accounts for sundry aggregated commodity supplies”.
But the ICPC said that its preliminary findings indicated the suspects acted without the clear approval of the state governor and other relevant authorities in deducting the said amount from the accounts of the cooks and suppliers of food for the NHGFSP.
The ICPC in a report made available to Vanguard on Sunday: “This approval was lacking in the case under investigation as Hon. Adoga only submitted a request in September 2018 but could not present evidence of approval, hence money was paid directly by the programme to the cooks’ accounts.
“Further findings indicate that the Focal Person and the State Programme Manager, in violation of the rights of the cooks, directed banks to place a lien on their accounts which were complied with, and thereafter had a total sum of N40, 388,558.00 transferred from the accounts of 627 cooks to the accounts of 10 companies out of the money meant for January 2019 feeding programme for 20 days.
“Similarly, another N27, 708,495.00 was transferred from the accounts of 850 cooks to 9 companies’ accounts out of April 2019 feeding programme for 10 days by the suspects.
“Other acts of corruption discovered in the Kogi programme include the fact that after cooks had signed the issuance voucher for the release of foodstuffs, store-keepers would release lesser quantities, and also that some foodstuff supplies for money deducted from cooks’ accounts were never made delivered and the money not refunded or accounted for.READ ALSO: Niger Delta lost $1.35bn to oil theft in 2019 first quarter ― Obaseki
It will be recalled that following outcry over the misuse of the funds meant for the National Social Investments Programme, the agency had approached ICPC for a collaboration to get rid of corruption in the implementation of the Federal Government’s SIPs namely: school feeding for pupils, cash transfers to very poor people, enterprise and empowerment programme, and N-Power.
It is not clear when the suspects will be charged and how much can be recovered from them and ploughed into the strategic feeding scheme for children.