Reps probe N1.5bn diversion, unpaid contractors in Women Affairs Ministry

The House of Representatives Committee on Women Affairs has summoned the Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy-Ohaneye, to appear before it on Tuesday over the alleged diversion of N1.5 billion meant for the payment of contractors by principal officers of the ministry. Director of Finance of the ministry, Aloy Ifeakandu, during an interactive session with the committee on Thursday, said he complied with official directives from his superiors, saying the records are available. The session followed a petition by contractors of the ministry to the House of Representatives over the non-payment of contracts executed, running into billions of naira. Speaking during the interactive session, Chairman of the committee, Hon. Kafilat Ogbara, said that the ministry initiated new contracts that were not captured in the 2023 budget and diverted (N1.5bn) funds meant for old contractors. She added that the ministry, while owing contractors, awarded fresh contracts in 15 states of the federation, which were not captured in the 2023 appropriation. “Money for contractors has not been paid and money has been diverted, so how do you pay these contractors?” she queried. She said there is an ongoing probe of the ministry by the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and other Related Offences on the overhead release of Nov/Dec 2023 to the tune of N1.5 billion. The petitioners, according to Ogbara, also alleged that the ministry purchased 7 tricycles for a military barrack in Abuja, an allegation that the ministry procurement denied. The committee noted that the ministry signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the American University of Nigeria, Yola, for the payment of Chibok girls’ school fees for seven years. Responding to some of the allegations, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Ambassador Gabriel Aduda, said: “In 2023, we had a total budget of N13.6 billion, but the total release was N3.4 billion, translating to 25 per cent, budget utilisation was N3.4 billion, while the unreleased balance stood at N10.2 billion.” “I resumed at the ministry in September 2023, I wouldn’t know what happened before I came. “The individual contractors have their files, it can be traced. As at the time I took over, there was no balance in the vote,” he said. Correspondence from the office of the Accountant General of the federation revealed that the sum of N1.5 billion has been released to the ministry. “Since the minister came on board, no payment has been made, the permanent secretary said the minister ordered him not to pay any contractor,” the petitioners said. The Committee gave the ministry till Tuesday to tender all valuable documents and also ordered the ministry to stop all contract processes in 2024 until the matter is resolved while demanding a special account for the Chibok girls and the MoU. The post Reps probe N1.5bn diversion, unpaid contractors in Women Affairs Ministry appeared first on Guardian Nigeria News.

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