Officials of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission ICPC have arrested two officials of the National Social Investment Programme (N-SIP) in Kogi state over alleged N68 million fraud.
N-SIP was set up by the Buhari-led administration in 2016 to tackle poverty and hunger in the country. Part of the programme’s mandate is to provide meals for indigent students in public schools.
A statement released by the commission’s spokesperson, Rasheedat Okoduwa, gave the names of the suspects as Khadijat Karibo, the state programme manager for the national home-grown school feeding programme, and Adoga Ibrahim, a former focal person for the programme in the state.
According to Okoduwa, the commission received a petition which alleged that the two officials were involved in diversion of funds meant for the school feeding programme. The statement in part reads
“A petition alleging that the erstwhile State Focal Person and the Programme Manager had connived and diverted large sums of money meant for payments to cooks in the national school feeding programme in Kogi State was received by ICPC.
The petition alleged that the duo had 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.
The petition further alleged that the massive fraudulent actions were pulled off by the officials acting in concert with some banks in the state. Preliminary findings from ICPC investigations indicate that for the programme to aggregate food items, the request must come from a state governor clearly stating the names and details of suppliers to the National Coordinator of the NHGSFP for approval.
This approval was lacking in the case under investigation as Ibrahim 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.
However, 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 monies deducted from cooks’ accounts were never made, neither were the monies refunded nor accounted for.
The NSIO 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. The recent launch of the collaboration featured the unveiling of a dedicated toll-free hotline (0800-CALL-ICPC: 0800-2255-4272) for reporting corruption in the programmes”.