Nigeria probes theft of nearly $7m meant to feed school children

NIGERIA’S education minister has ordered a full investigation to uncover how nearly $7 million meant to go towards a feeding fund for 104 schools during a Covid-19 lockdown allegedly found its way into individual accounts.

In a statement on Wednesday, minister Adamu Adamu said the department would coordinate with the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to try and establish the veracity of the claims.

‘The ministry … is to collaborate effectively with officials of the ICPC to unearth the facts as well as find a lasting solution to the payment system for meal subsidies that will ensure accountability and transparency,’ Adamu said.

The Premium Times newspaper quoted the chairperson of the anti-corruption agency, Bolaji Owasanoye as saying ICPC investigations had shown that the funds were diverted into private accounts.

‘We discovered payment of N2.67 bn (about $6.7 million) during lockdown when the children were not in school, and some money ended up in personal accounts. We have commenced investigations into these findings,’ he reportedly said.

However, in his statement, the minister said school principals explained that payments made during the lockdown period, went towards debts owed to food vendors even before Covid-19.

According to the Premium Times, Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development Minister Sadiya Farouq said the funds were not misappropriated.

Farouq said the report from the ICPC was misunderstood.

‘The amount traced by the commission on school feeding is not the same as the federal government Home-Grown School Feeding Programme under the Social-National Social Investment Programme,’ she was quoted saying.

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