COVID-19 Palliatives: N2.67bn School Feeding Funds Traced to Private Accounts

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), has revealed how it discovered a huge N2.67 billion meant for feeding of federal colleges school feeding during lockdown in private accounts

ICPC Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, disclosed this on Monday in his 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,” held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He explained that in the Open Treasury Portal review carried out between January to August 15, 2020, out of 268 Ministries, Departments and Agendas (MDAs) 72 of them had cumulative infractions of N90 million.

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.

According to Owasanoye, “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.”

The ICPC helmsman also said under its 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 exiting 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.

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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.

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