Senate Ad-Hoc Committee Uncovers N2.5billion IDP Fraud

About N2.5billion fraud was on Tuesday uncovered by the Senate Ad-Hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North East in the activities of the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE) aimed at reconstructing and rehabilitating communities destroyed by Boko Haram insurgency. The discovery of the alleged fraud came at a time, women in most of the Internally Displaced Camps (IDPs), are begging for provision of sanitary pads. The alleged fraud came up during Public Hearing organised by the Senate Ad-Hoc Committee charged to investigate allegations of redirection and misappropriation of funds by government agencies and nongovernmental organizations in the North East. The public hearing which attracted stakeholders from states in the North East and federal government agencies saddled with responsibilities of jump starting development in the area, unearthed how monies meant for IDP camps were misused. The fraud based on submissions and counter submissions made at the session, ranges from award and execution of non existing contracts, overinflated contracts to outright misappropriation of funds. Specifically, the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE) couldn’t account for the N2.5 billion it received for execution of intervention projects in the area when put on the spot by the committee. While the Secretary of PINE, Umar Musa Gulani , claimed that the agency spent the  sum of N203million to clear taipa grass in Yobe State, stakeholders from the state led by the State’s Commissioner for Information, Alhaji Mohammed Lamin, disputed his claim as Lamin said ‘no taipa grass was cleared in the state by any federal government agency”. Also, Gulani’s claim on clearing of invasive plants species around river banks in the state at N253million by PINE was equally voided by the Commissioner and other stakeholders from the state in addition to the N422.5million he claimed was spent on provision of temporary shelter (tents) to small families in the state. Even the claim by the Presidential Initiative to have spent several millions of Naira for renovation of about 18 schools completely wiped out by the Boko Haram insurgents in Yobe State alone, was also disputed by the commissioner and other stakeholders. According to the Commissioner, only three schools have been renovated in the state by agencies outside the state, to which the State Universal Basic Education (SUBEB) have been directed by the Governor to identify. Disturbed by the revelations, the Committee members came very hard on PINE by directing its Secretary, Gulani, to forward to it within one week, all documents including photographs of claimed executed contracts wondering why a paltry sum of N2million was spent by the agency to feed the IDPs and donating N50million to an NGO as clearly stated in their statement of account. A member of the committee, Senator Theodore Orji said: “The affected states said they were not aware of all the contracts executed by PINE, you people just decided to make money and that is why you decided to donate N50million for conference organized by an NGO“. Another member of the committee, Senator Ben Bruce, disclosed that when the committee visited some IDP camps many women cried out for provision of sanitary pads which could have been well taken care of if the N2.5billion given to PINE out of the budgeted N5billion was well utilize.

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