Reps summon women affairs minister over alleged N1.5bn diversion

Leah TwakiJuly 7, 20244 min

Uju Kennedy-Ohaneye, Minister of Women Affairs has some explanations to give over N1.5bn alleged diversion. She has until Tuesday to present documents before the House committee

Reps summon Women Affairs Minister over alleged N1.5bn diversion

The House of Representatives Committee on Women Affairs and Social Development has launched a probe into the alleged diversion of N1.5 billion meant for contractor payments by principal officers of the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development. 

The committee has summoned the Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy-Ohaneye, to appear before it on Tuesday to account for the missing funds.

During an interactive session with the committee on Thursday, Mr. Aloy Ifeakandu, the Director of Finance at the ministry, stated that he had only complied with directives from his superiors and assured the committee that records of the transactions were available.

The committee’s sitting was sequel to a petition by contractors of the Ministry to the House of Representatives over nonpayment of executed contracts running into billions of naira.

Committee chairperson, Rep. Kafilat Ogbara, accused the ministry of initiating new contracts not included in the 2023 budget, using funds meant for existing contractors. Ogbara highlighted that while the ministry was indebted to contractors, it proceeded to award new contracts in 15 states, also not covered in the 2023 appropriation.

“Money for contractors has not been paid and money has been diverted, so how do you pay these contractors?” she questioned 

Further Revelations 

Adding to the controversy, Ogbara revealed that the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) is already probing the ministry regarding an overhead release of N1.5 billion in November and December 2023. .

Petitioners further alleged that the ministry purchased seven tricycles for a military barrack in Abuja, which a procurement officer denied.

The committee noted that the ministry signed a memorandum of understanding with the American University of Nigeria, Yola, for the payment of school fees for Chibok girls for seven years.

Responding to the allegations, Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Ambassador Gabriel Aduda, exonerated himself, stating that the ministry had a total budget of N13.6 billion for 2023, with only N3.4 billion released, translating to 25% budget utilization. 

Uju further implicated 

Amidst the controversy, correspondence from the office of the Accountant General of the Federation revealed that the N1.5 billion had been released to the ministry. Petitioners claimed that since the minister took office, no payments had been made to contractors, as the minister allegedly ordered a halt on all payments.

Committees sanction

In response, the committee has summoned the minister to appear on Tuesday. “We are giving till Tuesday for the ministry to bring all documents to come and defend where the N1.5 billion disappeared to,” Ogbara said.

The committee has also ordered the ministry to halt all contract processes in 2024 until the matter is resolved and sought access to the special account for the Chibok girls and the memorandum of understanding. “We want to see the account and documents,” Ogbara added.

 

STAR Check: Nigerians, particularly, constituents of Kosofe federal constituency , can keep tabs on the legislative performance of Rep. Ogbara throughout the 10th House here 

Leah Twaki

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