Women Affairs Ministry: Reps committee vows to trace N1.5b allegedly diverted by officials

NV News

By Saminu Ibrahim

The House of Representatives committee on Women Affairs and Social Development is probing N1.5billion meant for the payment of contractors but allegedly diverted by principal officers of ministry of women affairs and social development.

Indeed, the Director of Finance of ministry, Mr. Aloy Ifeakandu during an interactive session with the committee on Thursday said he only comply with official directives from his superiors, saying the records are available.

The session followed petition by contractors of the ministry to the House of Representatives over none payment of contracts executed running into billions of Naira.

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Speaking during the interactive session, chairman of the committee, Hon. Kafilat Ogbara alluded that the ministry initiated new contracts not captured in the 2023 budget and diverted (N1.5bn) being funds for old contractors.

She added that the ministry while owing contractors, awarded fresh contract in 15 states of the federation, similarly not captured in the 2023 appropriation.

“Money for contractors have not been paid and money has been diverted, so how do you pay these contractors” She asked?

She said there is an ongoing probe of the ministry by the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) on overhead release of November/December, 2023 to the tune of N1.5bn.

The petitioners, according to Ogbara also alleged that the ministry purchased 7 tricycles for a military Barack in Abuja, an allegation a procurement officer of the ministry denied.

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Continuing, the committee noted that the ministry signed a memorandum of understanding MoU with the America University of Nigeria, Yola for the payment of Chibok girls school fees for seven years.

Responding to some of the allegations, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Ambassador Gabriel Aduda who exonerated himself, explained that in “2023 we had total budget of N13.6billion, total release was N3.4billion, translating to 25 percent, budget utilization N3.4billion, while unreleased balance stood at N10.2billion”.

However, the DFA, said “I resumed at the ministry in September 2023, I wouldn’t know what happened before I came.

“The individual contractors have their files, it can be traced, as at the time I took over, there was no balance in the vote” he said.

Amidst the controversy, correspondence from the office of the Accountant General of the federation revealed that the said N1.5 billion has been released to the ministry.

“Since the minister came on board, no payment has been made, the permanent secretary said the minister ordered him not to pay any contractor” the petitioners said.

Meanwhile, the committee has summoned the minister of women affairs and social development, Uju Kennedy-Ohaneye to appear on Tuesday.

“We are giving till Tuesday for the ministry to bring all documents to come and defend where the N1.5bn disappeared to”.

The committee also ordered the ministry to stop all contract process in 2024, “until we resolve this matter”.

Additionally, the committee also sought to see the special account for the Chibok girls and the MoU.

“We want to see the account and documents” Ogbara added.

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