The Federal Government has ordered a “full-scale investigation” into the report by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission about the theft of N2.67 billion meal subsidies released to the 104 Unity Colleges during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The government said the investigation aims to establish the veracity of the claims to ensure that there was no diversion of public funds or misappropriation of the same.
This was contained in a statement issued by the Director (Press and Public Relations) Federal Ministry of Education, Ben Bem Goong, announcing the investigation in Abuja on Tuesday, entitled: ‘ICPC, Education Ministry to collaborate on Unity Schools investigation’.
The statement reads in part; “Following the report of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, that the sum of N2.67 billion released to the 104 Unity Colleges during the COVID – 19 lockdowns for meal subsidies found its way into individual accounts, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, has ordered a full-scale investigation into the matter.
“In response to queries issued by the Federal Ministry of Education, the Principals explained that payments on meal subsidies to Unity Colleges on the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System, platform are designed to accommodate individual officers of those colleges who are officially recognized to receive such payments and disburse same to food vendors.
“This followed difficulties encountered by farmers, local food vendors, and market women who do not have Tax Identification Numbers, PENCOM, and other requirements to access the payment platform.
“The principals also explained that payments made during the lockdown period had to do with debts owed food vendors even before COVID – 19, some of which are still pending, adding that these debts arose from irregular and inadequate budgetary allocations and releases over the years.
“The investigation is to establish the veracity of the claims to ensure that there is no diversion of public funds or misappropriation of same.
“To this end, the Ministry in line with the Minister’s directive is to collaborate effectively with officials of the ICPC to unearth the facts as well as find a lasting solution to the payment system for meal subsidies that will ensure accountability and transparency.”