The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts has initiated a comprehensive investigation into the alleged mismanagement of COVID-19 intervention funds by various Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) of the government.
News About Nigeria reports that the probe, which began on Monday, follows accusations by Nyampa Zakari, a House member, who moved a motion in October 2023, claiming that MDAs misappropriated funds amounting to N183.9 billion designated to address the COVID-19 pandemic from 2020 to 2023.
Committee Chairman, Bamidele Salam, issued a stern warning during the opening session, stating that the committee would not entertain requests for an extension of time from the implicated MDAs.
He stated that the committee’s focus was on ensuring diligence in executing its investigative responsibilities and was not targeting individuals or groups.
Over 60 MDAs are under scrutiny for the utilisation of substantial intervention funds allocated to them during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Salam stated that the committee had given these entities sufficient time to prepare for the ongoing inquiry.
Among the MDAs that appeared before the committee on Monday were Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital (ATBUTH) in Bauchi State, Federal Ministry of Communication, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Federal Ministry of Water Resources, and the Federal Road Maintenance Agency.
The committee directed the Chief Medical Director of ATBUTH, Prof Yusuf Jubrin, to reappear on Thursday with necessary documents supporting the funds released to the institution during the global pandemic.
Additionally, the acting Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Communication, Innovation, and Digital Economy, along with the Procurement Officer, were instructed to return with relevant documents, including vouchers and evidence of the expenditure of the N3 billion allocated for the ministry during the stated period.
The committee expressed concern over the awarding of multiple contracts on the same day and the alleged exclusive rights granted to specific contractors, contravening the Federal Character principle.