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Reps grill women affairs minister over N1.5bn

The House of Representatives Committee on Women’s Affairs and Social Development, on Tuesday, grilled the Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy-Ohaneye, over the non-payment of…

The House of Representatives Committee on Women’s Affairs and Social Development, on Tuesday, grilled the Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy-Ohaneye, over the non-payment of N1.5 billion to contractors after the release of funds for the purpose.

The committee was investigating the alleged diversion of the N1.5bn meant for the payment of contractors after it received a petition from the contractors over non-payment for contracts they executed for the ministry.

The committee had at its last sitting summoned the minister to appear before it to explain the rationale behind the non-payment.

The committee also ordered the stoppage of all 2024 contract processes by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs until the whereabouts of the money for the said contracts are determined.

Chairperson of the committee, Rep Kafilat Ogbara, at the resumed hearing, said the committee’s investigative hearing was not a witch-hunt but to unravel the truth behind the matter.

When asked why the contractors were not paid their money, the minister said funds were not released to the ministry, but the committee faulted her claim, saying the Director Finance and Accounts had earlier confirmed the release of funds for contracts.

On his part, the Director of Finance and Accounts, Aloy Ifeakandu, said only 25 per cent of the contract sum was released to the ministry.

The committee, while going through the documents submitted by the ministry, queried the N45m said to have been expended in organising New Year celebration for children and another N20m to buy soap and sanitary pads for New Year babies.

The committee also raised eyebrows over the N1.5m she said she spent on fuelling vehicles on a trip to Anambra State, but the minister justified the expenditure.

As the panel dug further into other alleged infractions by the ministry, it became a shouting match between the minister and the panel, as she kept on raising her voice, accusing the committee of not being given a fair hearing.

The panel’s Chairman, Kafilat, who described the attitude of the minister as rude and insulting to the parliament, adjourned the hearing indefinitely.

She said the committee would report to the house that the minister was uncooperative and had no regard for the parliament.

 

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