The acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, has reiterated the resolve of the anti-corruption agency to go after perpetrators of social Investment fraud.
Magu also affirmed that the Commission would ensure transparency and honesty in the implementation of the ideals behind the creation of the National Social Investment Programme, N-SIP in the North-East.
The anti-graft spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren said this in a statement in Abuja.
He added, “There are complaints across board of the beneficiaries collecting monies, while others are using proxy companies to siphon public funds, and this will not be tolerated,” said Magu.
Magu, who spoke through the Head, EFCC Maiduguri Zonal Office, Lawrence Iwodi, at the 14th Situation Room, which held at the Pinnacle Hotel, Maiduguri, Borno State, also urged N-SIP beneficiaries to report any person(s) engaging in fraudulently activities through the program.
In his words, “The public is hereby warned to desist from fraudulent acts, as the EFCC will not relent in carrying out a proper investigation and likely prosecution of offenders in the area of school feeding and other programmes of N-SIP”.
He further urged Nigerians to embrace the Federal Government’s whistle-blower policy, stressing that “beneficiaries should endeavor to provide us with information on fraudulent activities currently happening across the states, especially the school feeding programme.”
Speaking at the event, which had as its theme, “Increasing Transparency and Participation in the Implementation of the Social Investments Programme”, the keynote speaker, Maryam Uwais, who was represented by Sola Afolayan, Adviser, Social Investments Programme from the Monitoring, Evaluation & Social Impact, noted the resolve of the N-SIP to partner with the EFCC.
“The N-Sip is collaborating with the EFCC on investigating and prosecuting of all cases relating to financial fraud on our programmes,” Afolayan said.
Diginitaries at the event are chairman of the occassion, Prof. Sadiq Isa Radda and the Director-General of the National Orientation Agency, Garba Abari.
Others include representatives from the Nigeria Labour Congress, the National Union of Teachers, Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-Corruption, MacArthur Foundation, and Religious bodies.
Ikpeazu beats Otti at tribunal
The three-man panel of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, and chaired by Justice A.L. Ogumoye, has dismissed the petition filed by 2019 APGA gubernatorial candidate, Dr. Alex Otti against the declaration of Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu.
The tribunal ruled that the petitioner failed to prove the case of over-voting, non-compliance to the INEC election guideline and electoral act.
Recall that Alex Otti had asked the tribunal to cancel fifteen out of the seventeen local government areas’ election results in Abia State.
Otti claimed that the respondents, PDP, and Governor Okezie Ikpeazu who was the governorship candidate of PDP perpetrated excessive malpractice in those LGAs in the last March 9, 2019, election conducted in the state.
34,000 teenagers to face acute malnutrition in Taraba – UNICEF
The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has affirmed that over 34,000 children in Taraba would face acute malnutrition if serious measures were not taken immediately to save the situation.
Bhanu Pathak, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Nigeria, Bauchi Field Office, raised the alarm during a courtesy call on Governor Darius Ishaku on Thursday in Jalingo.
“Currently, Taraba has an estimated 34,419 severe acute malnutrition cases.
“With no health facility to provide treatment, these children will be at risk of dying, if the government does not intervene appropriately and timely.
“Many children who might survive malnutrition in early life are condemned to permanent physical and intellectual disabilities in later life.
“Thus, productivity of the future leaders of the state will be adversely affected,” he said.
Mr Pathak also disclosed that more than 75,000 children under five years were yet to be fully immunised from polio and other child-killer diseases and urged the state government to step up actions to address the issues.
“The UNICEF is also worried that over 75,000 children in the state are not yet fully immunised while over 500,000 children of school age are out of school.
“This is further complicated because of the insurgency in the region which has turned Taraba to a home for most of the people fleeing.
“The internal wrangling has added to the problem.
“We, therefore, urge the state government to step up actions to address these challenges.”
He commended the governor for his commitment to the improvement of health and quality education of children in the state and for attending to the plight of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
Mr Pathak, however, said that there was so much needed to be done with more commitment from the state government.
Responding, Governor Ishaku said the state was “immensely grateful to UNICEF for the various interventions in key areas of education, health, nutrition, child protection and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).“
Ishaku said the state government had made tremendous efforts and recorded great success in the provision of health services, education and the general well being of mothers and children.
The governor said he is overwhelmed by the challenges posed by the IDPs.
“We have done remarkably well and have recorded great improvement in the provision of quality education and health care services to the people.
“But we have challenges and we need your assistance to deal with the plight of IDPs and the refugees we have coming in from Cameroon.
“I have directed that they should be properly taken care of but we need more assistance to address some of these issues.
“We had hoped to have all our children in school by now but the crisis has affected our plans, “he said.
Ishaku reassured that the government would not relent as it had great plans for children.
“Let me once again thank UNICEF and other partnering agencies for their interests in Taraba.
“I assure you that my government will welcome any intervention for the good of our people and we will always pay our counterpart funds promptly”.
Nigerian governors give condition for N614bn bailout repayment
The 36 Governors across the country have demanded a reconciliation of accounts before repaying the N614 billion bailout fund granted to them by the federal government.
They want the bailout support to be reconciled with debts that the federal government allegedly owes states.
Many of such debts involve amounts used to repair federal roads by state governments.
The governors made the demand at the end of a meeting of the Nigerian Governors Forum held late Wednesday in Abuja.
The federal government gave the conditional budget support facility to 35 states through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 2017.
The loans granted to enable states to meet their financial obligations to civil servants and pensioners were provided at a nine per cent interest rate, with a grace period of two years.
With the expiration of the grace period last week, the federal government announced that it will in the next two weeks commence the deduction from statutory allocations to the states.
Before the announcement, TIMELY POST reported how state governors were lobbying to delay the repayment of the loan.
As the lobby appeared to have failed, the governors agreed to make the refund on a condition.
At Wednesday’s NGF meeting, the Chairman of the forum, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, said governors will repay the loans only after proper reconciliation of the accounts.
“If you borrow, you pay. Governors have never been averse to payment of loans that we took under legal environment and we don’t want a situation that our banking system and financial system will be in any jeopardy.
“However, governors believe that just as we are ready to pay, we also have a duty to ensure reconciliation of account as far as money owed to states may be concerned. That is the process that is ongoing,” Mr Fayemi noted.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, had at the Public Consultation Forum on the Draft 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework in Abuja last week said the repayment will be taken from the affected states’ allocations during the next Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting later this month.
She said the refund is not going to be treated as revenue to be used to fund the 2020 budget.
It was a credit that was advanced by the Central Bank of Nigeria to the states, the minister said.
“We will deduct direct at source and remit to the CBN,” she noted.
Reading a communiqué issued after the over three hours meeting of the governors, Mr Fayemi said the governors will continue to collaborate with journalists, especially on the issues of security as they work in hostile environments.
He said the forum received a presentation from the Nigeria Meteorological Agency advising that the country should expect above average rainfall which had already resulted in severe flooding in several states.
The forum also listened to a presentation by the Transmission Company of Nigeria, which highlighted the issues around inadequate transmission and sought the governors’ commitment to improving the power situation in the country.
The Forum resolved to partner TCN to improve power supply nationwide.
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