Reps committee summons Women Affairs Minister over alleged diversion of funds

The House of Representatives Committee on Women Affairs Social Development has summoned the minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy-Ohaneye, to appear before it on Tuesday, July 9, to explain the alleged diversion of about N1.5 billion meant for payment of contractors.

The chairman of the committee, Hon. Kafilat Ogbara (APC, Lagos) gave the directive at an interactive session with officials of the ministry.

Ogbara said the minister is expected to come with relevant documents to defend the whereabouts of the money.

The interactive session followed a petition by contractors of the ministry to the House over non-payment for contracts executed running into billions of Naira.

The committee also ordered the Ministry to stop all contract processes contained in 2024, until the issue of the alleged diverted money is resolved.

The committee also asked the minister to come before it with details of the special account allegedly opened for the Chibok girls as well as the memorandum of understanding signed with the American University of Nigeria for the training of the girls.

The committee chairman alleged that the Ministry initiated new contracts not captured in the 2023 budget and diverted the N1.5bn into those contracts instead of using the money to pay old contractors.

Hon. Kafilat Ogbara said the Ministry awarded fresh contracts in 15 states of the federation, similarly not captured in the 2023 appropriation while owing contractors.

“Money for contractors has not been paid and money released has been diverted. So how do you pay these contractors”, she asked.

She disclosed that there is an ongoing probe of the Ministry by the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) on overhead release of November/December 2023 to the tune of N1.5bn.

She said the ministry signed a memorandum of understanding MoU with the American University of Nigeria, Yola for the payment of Chibok girls’ school fees for seven years.

The committee is probing the N1.5 billion allegedly meant for the payment of contractors but allegedly diverted by officials of the Ministry.

Responding to some of the allegations, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Amb. Gabriel Aduda explained that in 2023, the ministry’s total budget was N13.6 billion with N3.4 billion, translating to 25 percent, while the unreleased balance stood at N10.2 billion”.

Director of Finance of the Ministry, Aloy Ifeakandu said he only complies with official directives from his superiors. He added that the records are available.

He said: “I resumed the ministry in September 2023, I wouldn’t know what happened before I came. The individual contractors have their files, it can be traced, as at the time I took over, there was no balance in the vote.”

 

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