May 27, 2019

Niger school feeding fraud: Presidency removes top officials

John Adams, Minna

Barely a week after The Daily Sun carried an exclusive report on large scale fraud in the federal government’s national home grown school feeding programme in Niger state, the Presidency has sacked two officials of the north central state’s school feeding committee.

Consequently, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has commenced an investigation into how the N1.2 billion disbursed to the state office for the feeding of school pupils was expended.

EFCC operatives, who stormed the offices of the state school feeding programme in Minna over the weekend, are reported to have made away with vital documents.

It was also gathered that the Niger state government has been directed by the federal government to immediately start handling the scheme, the feeding programme having been transferred to the state Ministry of Women Affairs.

READ MORE: Over 5.5m Girls Out Of School In Nigeria

The decision by the federal government to wade into the affairs of the state’s school feeding programme was as result of public outcry over the way the programme was being administered in the state.

The scheme had been earlier suspended with barely a two-week outcry from major stakeholders over being shortchanged in the allocation of funds by the state office.

Of the N84,000 that was paid to food vendors account, the state was said to have removed N69,000, leaving the balance of only N15,000 which resulted in protest by the vendors.

Similarly, pupils who are the primary beneficiaries of the programme complained that they were being treated like beggars, in addition to being served meals in polythene bags.

When contacted, the Niger state Commissioner for Women Affairs Mrs. Amina Musa confirmed that her ministry had been directed to take over the School Feeding programme.

Mrs. Musa however declined to say why her office was asked to take over the programme.

“I have been directed to take over. I have taken over. I have already been to the Presidency for briefing,” she responded.

“One thing I can not say is that I don’t know why I am asked to oversee the Office and coordinate the programme.”

Pressed further, the Commissioner said “I was not part of the last committee. I have ruled the line [and] we are already forging ahead.”

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