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Reps launch probe into COVID-19 intervention fund mismanagement

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The Public Accounts Committee of the House of Representatives has commenced a comprehensive investigation into the alleged misappropriation of COVID-19 intervention funds between 2020 and 2023. 

The probe, mandated by the House during the plenary session, aims to scrutinize the utilization of billions of naira allocated to various Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

PAC Chairman Rep Bamidele Salam issued a stern warning to the concerned MDAs, emphasizing that the committee will not tolerate any delay tactics or requests for extensions. 

He stressed that the committee has granted ample time for preparation and will not grant any further extensions.

“The Committee is not after any individual or groups,” Salam stated. “We are going to be diligent in carrying out our assignment.”

To facilitate the investigation, the committee requested the cooperation of the Accountant General of the Federation, urging the office to provide relevant personnel and documentation.

Several MDAs appeared before the committee on Monday, including Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital Baruch, the Federal Ministry of Communication, Innovation, and Digital Economy, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, and the Federal Road Maintenance Agency.

The committee directed the Chief Medical Director of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital Baruch, Prof. Yusuf Jubrin, to reappear before it on Thursday with comprehensive documentation supporting the funds released to the institution during the specified period.

During the grilling of the Acting Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Communication, Innovation, and Digital Economy and the Procurement Officer, Mohammed Ibrahim and Mrs. Margret Ebute, the committee identified inconsistencies in the submitted documents.

Consequently, the committee instructed the officials to return with more detailed documentation, including vouchers and supporting evidence for the expenditure of the N3 billion allocated to the ministry during the period under scrutiny.

The committee also raised concerns regarding the awarding of multiple contracts on the same day and the alleged exclusive rights granted to certain contractors, potentially violating principles of Federal character and due process.

Furthermore, the committee questioned the ministry’s claims regarding training programs conducted during the nationwide lockdown, requesting detailed documentation and the locations of such training events.

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