Reps begin probe of alleged COVID-19 funds fraud

The House of Representatives will on Wednesday, January 17, begin an investigative hearing on alleged mismanagement of COVID-19 intervention funds from 2020 to 2022.

This series of hearings organised by the House Public Accounts Committee runs from Wednesday, January 17 to Friday, January 26 at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja.

The Public Account Committee Chairman, Bamidele Salami, had in an earlier communication invited 59 Federal Government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies to appear before it for the exercise.

These MDAs grouped into eight include the Accountant-General of the Federation, Nigerian Export Promotion Council Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria,  Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, Nigerian Meteorological Agency, and the Rural Electrification Agency.

Others include the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development, National Obstetric Fistula Centre, Abakaliki, as well as a large number of Federal Medical Centres, Federal University Teaching Hospitals, and Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospitals across the country.

The National Commission for Refugees Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons Offices, National Directorate of Employment, Federal Road Maintenance Agency, a host of federal ministries, and various security agencies such as the Nigerian Airforce, Nigeria Police Force, and the Federal Fire Service make up the remaining institutions invited.

In a statement issued  on Tuesday, House spokesman, Akin Rotimi, said each MDA “is to be represented by its Chief Executive Officer, Head of Finance, Head of Procurement and Officers that are conversant with the expenditures of the COVID-19 Intervention Funds.”

The committee during its hearing observed with great disdain the failure of some MDAs to honour its earlier publication and cause appearance before the committee, warning that “Failure to comply with this civil invitation may leave the Committee with no choice than to resolve the issues raised against your Office/Medical Institutions.”

The House of Representatives had in October 2023 resolved to investigate the management of the funds following a motion sponsored by Zakaria Dauda Nyampa on “Investigation of alleged mismanagement of COVID-19 intervention funds from 2020 to 2022.” on the floor of the House.

In his presentation, the lawmaker recalled that COVID-19 broke out as a major pandemic in 2019 affecting families, businesses, and economies of the nations of the world, noting that a report of the Auditor-General of the Federation and other sources revealed that significant funds for COVID-19 palliatives and international donations were diverted and unaccounted for by various MDAs.

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