School feeding: ICPC arrests two over alleged N68m fraud
The recently-launched collaboration between the National Social Investment Office (NSIO) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to root out corruption in the Social Investment Programmes (SIPs) has begun to yield fruits as two persons involved with the programme in Kogi state are currently under arrest by ICPC for alleged N68,097,053 fraud.
The suspects include Honourable Adoga Ibrahim and Khadijat Karibo.
While Ibrahim was appointed the State Focal Person in 2016 for the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP) for Kogi State and left office in May 2019, Karibo is still serving as the state’s Programme Manager.
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, according to a statement by its spokesperson, Mrs Rasheedat Okoduwa, and made available to Tribune Online, on Sunday, in Abuja, 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 indicated 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 Honourable 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.
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 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.