FG Probes States, Agencies Over Diversion of COVID-19 Funds
POLITICS DIGEST– The Federal Government anti-graft agency, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, and the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation have begun investigation and audit of state governments, agencies and personnel, who spent the COVID-19 funds from the government and private individuals.
The OAGF said the internal audit procedures would apply to all transactions relating to the COVID-19 Funds and reports would be forwarded to its Audit Monitoring Department.
The AGF, Ahmed Idris, added that any ministry, department or agency that contravened the guideline would be sanctioned and the names of such MDA and its principal officers would be made public as a “measure of transparency.”
They stated these during a virtual meeting of stakeholders on the COVID-19 Funds Management and Monitoring.
The virtual meeting was organised by the ICPC on Thursday in Abuja and the OAGF presentation was obtained by our correspondent on Friday.
Meanwhile, the ICPC noted that it was investigating alleged cases of corruption in the management of COVID-19 funds and palliatives, including some state governments in the country.
On its own part, the ICPC said it was investigating alleged cases of corruption in the management of COVID-19 funds and palliatives.
The ICPC Director of Operations, Mr Akeem Lawal, stated this in his presentation titled, ‘ICPC Monitoring Obligation and Strategy Re: COVID-19 Emergency.’
Lawal, who did not mention names or states, added that there was also a case of diversion of COVID-19 logistics and contingency emergency fund into a personal account.
The ICPC director said, “As much as prevention of corruption in the management of COVID-19 funds is important, investigations are ongoing regarding some cases of distribution of palliatives and the use of funds connected with the pandemic by some public institutions in the following areas, release and distribution of grains from the strategic food reserve.
“Others are instances of agencies involved in fraudulent purported procurement of COVID-19 palliatives, Personal Protective Equipment and community enlightenment activities; cases of state governments using the COVID-19 pandemic to financially exploit local governments.”
The anti-graft agency will also quiz officials allegedly involved in fraudulent procurement of COVID-19 palliatives, Personal Protective Equipment and community enlightenment activities.
A statement from the OAGF had noted that in addition to the main CACOVID Fund Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), approved the opening of five private sector COVID-19 donor accounts with five commercial banks; Zenith, Access, Guaranty Trust, United Bank for Africa and First Bank.
Some of the private sector funds, totalling over N25bn, in addition to government funds, had been disbursed for various intervention purposes by the Central Bank of Nigeria, ministries, agencies and departments since the beginning of May.
The AGF, Ahmed Idris, had confirmed that there would be an audit of COVID-19 funds, in a paper presentation in Abuja, titled, ‘Framework for the Management of COVID-19 Funds in Nigeria under the Treasury Single Account.’
The AGF, Idris, said, “Internal Audit procedures shall apply to all transactions relating to COVID-19 Funds. In the event that due to the urgent nature of expenditures under this fund, proper pre-payment audit was not carried out or even where proper pre-payment audit was carried out, internal auditors are mandated to carry out detailed post-payment audit and review of all transactions and to promptly forward their reports to the Audit Monitoring Department of the OAGF.
“A copy of their report shall be sent to the TSA Department to test the adequacy of the overall TSA architecture in re-enforcing internal controls and blocking leakages. Internal auditors are also to ensure that published reports give true and fair view of the underlying transactions and accounts.
“Any internal auditor that encounters any challenge in the discharge of his duties under this guideline should immediately report to the Accountant-General of the Federation in writing for the attention of the Director, Audit Monitoring. A copy of the report shall be sent to Director, Treasury Single Account.”
He added, “Contravention of guidelines and sanctions, participating MDA are reminded that the COVID-19 Fund is a public fund in the truest sense of it. For that reason, the public is invested in ensuring that the funds are utilised in the most transparent and prudent manner.
“For this reason, any participating MDA that contravenes this guideline may be sanctioned from continued participation in the programme. Also, the name of the MDA and its principal officers shall be made public as an additional measure of transparency.”
US severs ties with WHO
United States President, Donald Trump, on Friday announced that the country has severed all ties with the World Health Organisation, three weeks ahead of a deadline he laid down earlier this month.
While speaking in the White House Rose Garden, where he castigated China, and threatening new sanctions over its actions in Hong Kong, Trump claimed that “China has total control over” the WHO, according to TheGuardian.
The US is the biggest funder of the global health body, paying about $450m in membership dues and voluntary contributions for specific programmes.
Trump said, “We will be today terminating our relationship with the WHO and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs.”