The Follow The Money Movement, has urged the federal anti-graft agencies to thoroughly investigate Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) responsible for the acquisition and distribution of COVID-19 palliative relief materials.
The anti-graft agencies are the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCCC). Mr Hamzat Lawal, Founder of “Follow The Money”, an initiative under Connected Development (CODE), an NGO, made the call in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja.
Lawal ,stressed that the call for investigation became imperative following the discovery of government storehouses for COVID-19 palliatives and the looting spree of these food and material resources across the country. “It should be recalled that in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic early this year, the Follow The Money team across the 36 States had been tracking intervention funds and materials disbursed to State Governments to cushion the impact of the pandemic.
“A total of 57 Freedom of Information letters were received by 27 State Government agencies, requesting details of COVID-19 funds and the distribution of palliatives but only six states responded. They assured that palliatives were distributed accordingly, even though they refused to provide details of distribution and evidence of the same. The discovery of palliatives hideouts further indicates a systemic failure in governance and a distrust in leadership.’’
Lawal said that there was no reason the distribution of the items should have been delayed knowing that the coronavirus pandemic worsened the country’s economic situation and increased poverty level. He said that the discovery further exposed the rot and persistent corruption in the Nigerian system.
“The Nigerian government continues to thwart the possibility of gaining the trust of its citizens, especially with its opacity and poor accountability, which have now materialised in a mob action and heavy looting of COVID-19 palliatives,’’ he also noted that there was an urgent need for the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 to look into the lapses identified ranging from operational mistakes to gross mismanagement of logistics, leading to the recent palliatives looting.
He said that the EFCC and the ICPC should thoroughly investigate procurement fraud and mishandling of COVID-19-related funding and resources at State and Federal level, bringing culprits to justice. He added that the National Assembly should also hold public hearings on the Palliatives looting and citizens properly briefed on outcomes.
He added that public officials should be held accountable for the lapses in efficiency adding that Nigerians deserved better public service delivery. Mrs Kevwe Oghide,Communications Director, CODE, mentioned that the Follow The Money movement under CODE was initiated to advocate, visualize and track government spending and international aid. Oghide added that the initiative lets Nigerians to know how effective these funds had been in the rural communities.