The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, has ordered a full scale investigation into the N2.67 billion released to the 104 Unity Colleges during the COVID-19 lockdown for meal subsidies, alleged to have been found in some individuals’ accounts.
The investigation was coming at the heels of a report by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, (ICPC) with respect to the allegation.
According to a statement made available to newsmen by the Director Press and Public Relations of the ministry, Ben Goong, on Tuesday in Abuja, principals of the Unity schools said individual officers of the colleges were recognized to receive and disburse the monies to food vendors and market women because they lacked the requirements to access the monies.
Also, the principals had faulted the poor budgetary allocation and releases by the federal government, which was leading to accumulation of debts owed food vendors.
The statement reads in part: “In response to queries issued by the Federal Ministry of Education, the Principals explained that payments on meal subsidies to Unity Colleges on the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System, (GIFMIS) platform is designed to accommodate individual officers of those colleges who are officially recognised to receive such payments and disburse same to food vendors.
“This followed difficulties encountered by farmers, local food vendors and market women who do not have Tax Identification Numbers (TIN), PENCOM and other requirements to access the payment platform.
“The Principals also explained that payments made during the lockdown period had to do with debts owed food vendors even before COVID 19, some of which are still pending, adding that these debts arose from irregular and inadequate budgetary allocations and releases over the years.
“The investigation is to establish the veracity of the claims to ensure that there is no diversion of public funds or misappropriation of same.”