Covid-19 Probe: House of Reps Direct Ministries of Health, Others to Refund N85b to FG Covers

From Lateef Taiwo

In reaction to several outcry from Nigerians over alleged mismanagement of Covid 19 Fund by some agencies of government, the House of Representatives on Public Accounts Committee, PAC, on Thursday directed the ministries of health as well as the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment to immediately refund the sum of N85b meant to address the negative effects of covid-19 pandemic in 2020 but was not utilize to federal government cover.

The directive was issued on Thursday my the Chairman of the Committee, Hon Bamidele Salam during a resumed hearing of his committee at National Assembly Complex, Abuja.

The committee also gave the Rural Electrification Agency, 24 hours to provide all necessary documents to back up monies released to it from the COVID intervention fund for medical facilities across the country.

As part of efforts to recover unutilized covid-19 funds released to special ministries during the pandemic to mitigate its effect on Nigerians, the house of representatives public accounts committee has urged the affected government ministries and agencies to refund all monies budgeted as special intervention fund.

According to the committee, the essence of the probe was not witch hunt anybody, ministry or agencies but to ensure that the committee is transparent and accountable in its investigation over the various sums of money released to Ministries, Department and Agencies.MDAs.

The chairman had also informed the panel that the total money made available to MDA’s amount to N600 billion as intervention funds adding that the major reason was to assist in mitigating the effect of covid-19 on Nigerians.

The ministries of Health, Rural Electrification and Industry Trade and Investment who were all present during the probe had failed to convince the committee on how the funds were utilized.

The permanent secretary, ministry of Health, Daju Kachallom who represented her ministry during the probe, urged lawmakers for adequate time to enable her present relevant documents to the investigative panel

In his ruling the committee chairman ordered the ministry of health to refund the 10 billion naira released for the local production of covid-19 vaccine.

The probe panel also ruled that the past and present executive secretaries of the ministry Industries, Trade and Investment, return the 75 billion naira covid-19 intervention fund and submit all documents to back up the refund to the committee.

The committee gave all the affected ministries and agencies up to Monday being 22Jan.2024 next week to appear before it with relevant documents

Members were however not satisfied with the way these funds were utilized prompting the committee to issue a directive that the funds be returned to government coffers which should be channeled towards other pressing needs.


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