The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has clarified its earlier statement on the alleged diversion of N2.67billion fund meant for school feeding during the COVID-19 induced lockdown.
The ICPC chairperson, Bolaji Owasanoye, on Monday, in a series of tweets via the commission’s verified Twitter handle said investigations carried out by the agency traced the said fund allegedly diverted into private accounts.
The Commission also revealed that over N2.5 billion was misappropriated by a senior civil servant (name withheld), now deceased, in the ministry of agriculture.
“We discovered payment of N2.67bn during lockdown when the children were not in school, and some money ended up in personal accounts. We have commenced investigations into these findings,” the tweet partly read.
Owasanoye’s statement was misinterpreted as an indictment of the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Sadiya Farouq, whose ministry handles the Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP) of the federal government.
In a reaction through her spokesperson, Nneka Anibeze, Ms Farouq denied the allegation, saying the fund allegedly misappropriated was meant for feeding of boarding school students of federal government colleges and not the HGSFP.
However, in a statement made on Tuesday, the ICPC’s spokesperson, Azuka Ogugua, said the school feeding referred to by Mr Owasanoye was the feeding of boarding students in Federal Government Colleges who were all at home during the COVID-19 lockdown and not the HGSFP.
During the pandemic induced lockdown, schools including state and federal colleges were closed across the country as a means to curtail the spread of the virus.
The statement read: “The Commission wishes to clarify that the ‘school feeding’ referred to by the Chairman of ICPC was the feeding of boarding students in Federal Government Colleges, who were all at home during the COVID-19 lockdown. This is NOT the Home-Grown School Feeding Programme being managed by the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.
“The Commission had discovered through its review of publications on the Open Treasury Portal that statutory monthly allocations meant for the feeding of secondary school students of SOME Federal Government Colleges were diverted into personal accounts.
“This statement is issued for the purpose of clarifying the statement of the Hon. Chairman. Consequently, the general public is hereby advised to disregard the said reports suggesting a reference to the school feeding programme going on in primary schools. The full speech of the Chairman can be downloaded from the Commission’s website at www.icpc.gov.ng.