By Philomina Attah
Abuja – The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) says it has arrested two officials over alleged N68 million fraud in the Federal Government’s Social Investment Programme (SIP).
Spokesperson of the commission, Mrs Rasheedat Okoduwa, disclosed this in a statement on Sunday.
According to her, the money was meant for the payment of cooks under the SIP’s National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFG) in Kogi.
Odowuwa identified the suspects as Adoga Ibrahim, who was until May, the Focal Person of NHGSFG in Kogi, and Khadijat Karibo, who currently serves as the state’s Programme Manager.
She said the arrest was the outcome of a recently launched collaboration between the National Social Investment Office (NSIO) and ICPC.
Okoduwa said: “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.
“The petition said the letters conveyed their consent that “a blanket and unspecified amount be moved to 10 different business accounts from the cooks’ accounts for sundry aggregated commodity supplies”.
She said 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, according to her, indicate that for the programme to aggregate food items, the request must come from a state governor.
She said the governor’s request must clearly state 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 Adoga only submitted a request in September, 2018 but could not present evidence of an 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.
“Thereafter, they 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,” she said.
The ICPC spokesperson said the commission also discovered other acts of corruption by store keepers in the state in the course of the investigation.
She said investigators found that after cooks had signed voucher for the release of foodstuffs, store-keepers would release lesser quantities.
It was also discovered that some foodstuff supplies for monies deducted from cooks’ accounts were never made, neither were the monies refunded nor accounted for, she added.
Okoduwa said the NSIO had approached ICPC for collaboration to get rid of corruption in the implementation of some components of the SIP.
She named the affected SIP components as the school feeding programme, cash transfers to very poor people, enterprise and empowerment programme and N-Power.