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Reps probe N1.5bn allegedly diverted by women affairs ministry officials

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Reps probe N1.5bn allegedly diverted by women affairs ministry officials

The House of Representatives has launched a probe into the N1.5bn meant for the payment of contractors, but allegedly diverted by principal officers of ministry of women affairs.

The House Committee on Women Affairs commenced the probe in Abuja against the backdrop of petitions by contractors over non-payment of contracts executed.

Chairman of the committee, Rep. Kafilat Ogbara, said 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, which she alleged was not captured in the 2023 appropriation.

“Money for contractors has not been paid and money has been diverted, so how do you pay these contractors?” she said.

She said there is an on-going probe of the ministry by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) on overhead release of Nov/Dec, 2023 to the tune of N1.5bn.

The petitioners, according to Ogbara also alleged that the ministry purchased seven tricycles for a military Barrack in Abuja.

She stated that the ministry signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the America University of Nigeria, Yola, for the payment of Chibok girls school fees for seven years.

The Director of Finance and Administration in the ministry, Mr. Aloy Ifeakandu, said he only complied with official directives from his superiors, saying the records are available.

He said, “I resumed at the ministry in Sept. 2023, I wouldn’t know what happened before I came.

READ ALSO: Reps probe N19.2billion railway project, contractor

“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.

Permsnent Secretary in the ministry, Mr Gabriel Aduda, exonerated himself, saying that, “in 2023, we had a total budget of N13.6bn, while the total release was N3.4bn.

This, according to him translates to 25 per cent budget utilisation, while unreleased balance stood at N10.2billion.

The office of the Accountant General of the Federation revealed that the said N1.5bn had been released to the ministry.

Meanwhile, the committee has summoned the Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy-Ohaneye, to appear before it on Tuesday, 9 July.

The committee also ordered the ministry to stop all contract process in 2024, “until the matter is resolved, while demanding for the special account for the Chibok girls and the MoU.

Proofreading, editing, by Uji A. ILIYASU, Editor at Neptune Prime

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