Huriwa Accuses Federal Government Of Protecting Alleged Corrupt Public Officials

Says Humanitarian Affairs Ministry Operates Opaque And Non-transparent Fiscal System
By Emmanuel Onwubiko
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A prominent Civil Rights Advocacy group-: HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has accused the federal government of sweeping under the carpets several cases of alleged disturbing corrupt practices by 'favoured' top public officials just as the Rights group said the Federal Attorney General and minister of justice Abubakar Malami(SAN) has refused to investigate the allegations that an unnamed top official of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences commission (ICPC) secured employment slots at the embattled National Biotechnology Development Agency Agency (NABDA) under the then acting Director General Professor Alex Akpa so as to grant soft landing to the now dismissed head of the agency over alleged heist of N400 million.

Besides, the Rights group said the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster management has consistently rebuffed invitation by it to show up for a publicly broadcasted debate in Abuja on allegations of massive fraudulent practices that surrounded the administration of the so called school feeding programme that took place during the eight months CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC's LOCKDOWN declared then by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Rights group said the ministry has continued to carry on business of administering public funds with scant regard to the principles of transparency and accountability just as the Rights group said the minister seems to be a sacred cow who is above public scrutiny.

HURIWA recalled that the Federal Government on Monday says over 12 million households have benefitted from the National Social Investment Programme, NSIP, in the last five years.

HURIWAsaid the Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Faruk, disclosed this while flagging-off the disbursement of N20,000 cash (Grants for Rural Women Project) to 8,000 rural women across the 44 local government areas of Kano State.

HURIWA quoted the media as reporting that Hajia Faruk, represented by her Permanent Secretary, Bashir Nura Alkali, while giving a breakdown of the 12 million households beneficiaries of the NSIP, said, “One million indigents benefitted N5,000 under Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) and under the Government Enterprise Enhancement Programme, 1,092,405 Micro and Small Business owners accessed loans to boost productivity, increase income and reduce poverty.

Her words: “A total of 125,000 women are to benefit from the N20,000 Cash Grant for Rural Women Project across the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory and Under the N-Power programme 500,000 unemployed youths were provided temporary income-generating opportunities while 8,612,457 primary 1 – 3 pupils in public schools are receiving 1 meal per day under the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme.”

HURIWA recalled that the Federal Government claimed that it is targeting over 160,000 poor and vulnerable rural women, to benefit from the N20,000 cash grant, across the country to cushion the effects of COVID-19 pandemic.

HURIWA said the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar-Faruk, made the disclosure at the launch of the grant, on Wednesday, in Katsina, where 6,800 rural women would benefit.

HURIWA quoted the minister as claiming thus: “We are targeting over 160,000 poor and vulnerable rural women in Nigeria for the N20,000 grant, to uplift their economic status. Our rural women with disability will also be included.

“It is my hope that the beneficiaries will use this opportunity to increase their income, enhance their food security and contribute toward improving their families,” she said, adding, “The N20,000, will go a long way in supporting any serious woman to start a business. What is most important is how judiciously you utilise the money”.The minister said that over N9.5 billion was received by Katsina State, under the Conditional Cash Transfer programme, from inception of this administration to date.

The Rights group said the processes of verifying these bogus claims by the Federal government on the disbursement of conditional cash transfers and the implementation of the school feeding programme are heavily shrouded in mystery and secrecy just as the Rights Advocacy group said it is shameful that the Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster management has continued to carry on her activities without sufficiently providing empirical evidence and proofs to the public on how her ministry spent a lot of cash feeding school children in the CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC in Nigeria when the entire Country was locked up and clearly a lot of demographic changes and dynamics happened to warrant that pupils won't inevitably be found in the same locations during the Lockdown amidst the movements from one point to the next just before the Lockdown was officially imposed last year.

HURIWA has for the third time in a roll, invited the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster management to pick a date and venue in Abuja for a public debate with HURIWA on the allegations of financial impropriety that characterised her ministry since inception.

On the NABDA CORRUPTION fiasco, the Rights group said the secrecy surrounding the release from detention of the said sacked acting DG of NABDA Professor Alex Akpa by the ICPC for over a Month and the non- disclosure of the status of that matter which apparently has not been charged to Court fuels the allegations obtained from an intelligence source embedded within the management of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) that a lot of hurriedly packaged employment slots were allotted allegedly by the then acting DG when he acted for two years in anticipation that should there be need to be called to answer charges of financial impropriety that the 'big Masquerade' with a lot of influence within the ICPC could grant him soft landing.

HURIWA has asked the nation's Chief Law officer to use his powers to investigate whether there is any credibility or believability in the intelligence provided to us by some very top directorate officials at the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA). "We had confronted the disgraced erstwhile acting DG of NABDA Professor Alex Akpa with this intelligence but he flatly denied it as an act of falsehood against him by his enemies hunting him out of office. However, HURIWA thinks the AGF/MINISTER of Justice should find out why the ICPC has been silent on the accusations they publicly made against the dismissed acting DG of NABDA Professor Alex Akpa for over one Month since his widely publicised detention from which he immediately secured a bail and till date no word has been said if the alleged disappeared N400 million has reappeared.

In a statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, the Rights group said the Minister of Science and Technology Dr Ogbonnaya Onu has also been petitioned to address the public on the allegations against his nominee who couldn't secure the substantive appointment as DG of NABDA Professor Alex Akpa just as the Rights Advocacy group HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) told the Science and Technology minister that it is important that he speaks so Nigerians will know if he played a role or not in the said disappearance of that huge amount of public fujd given that he is the direct supervisory Minister overseeing NABDA. "We know Ogbonnaya Onu to be someone who wouldn't want his reputation muddied so we expect him to provide immediate and far reaching clarifications on this allegations".

Specifically, in the letter to the Federal Attorney General and minister of justice Abubakar Malami, titled "ON PROFESSOR ALEX AKPA AND THE ICPC: DEMAND FOR YOUR INTERVENTION", the Rights group said the following:

"We write on behalf our over ten thousand registered members and several other affiliate bodies.

Sir, we ask you to investigate the alleged collusion and compromise of officials of the independent corrupt practices and other related offence commission (ICPC) in the matter involving the just dismissed acting director general of an agency under the Federal Ministry of science and Technology known as National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) in the person of Professor Alex Akpa.

We recall that the said Alex Akpa who spent two years in acting capacity was recently sacked by President Muhammadu Buhari and a replacement made.

The said disgraced erstwhile DG OF NABDA has had brushes with the law leading to his detention by the ICPC.

But regrerrably, to the shock of most Nigerians, he was picked up, detained only briefly and for a month that he was released, the ICPC has neither filed a suit nor has it made full public disclosure on the status of the allegation that the gentleman pilfered N 400, Million intervention fund belonging to NABDA.

We were also told by some top whistle blowers within NABDA, that both ICPC and EFCC allegedly got some employment slots during the two year reign of the removed acting Director General so they can institutionally cover his tracks. This intelligence can not be ascertained by us since we are not institutionally empowered to go through the records of employment that took place whilst Professor Alex Akpa acted as Director General and couldn't get confirmation for substantive appointment. But the office of the Federal Attorney General and minister of justice Abubakar Malami SAN can comfortably obtain the information through administive means.

Kindly investigate to see if there is any verifiable or concrete evidence of compromise on the part of ICPC which could explain the long silence about this same matter for which ICPC had officially informed the public that Alex Akpa was detained.

We are doing this to assist President Muhammadu Buhari in his avoided fight against corruption. Your quick response and action will demonstrate your zeal to assist the President Muhammadu Buhari to carry on vigorous and corruption war", HURIWA concluded in another reminder sent to the Federal Attorney General and minister of justice Abubakar Malami today.