The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts weekend summoned the Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Ifedayo Adetifa, over alleged payment of a part of N9bn Federal Government’s COVID-19 response intervention through personal accounts of some of its staff.
This was based on an audit query by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation on the account of the NCDC’s spending on COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021.
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The chairman of the committee, Oluwole Oke, said records showed that from the government, the NCDC got N620m from March to December 2020, N5bn from March 2020 to March 2021 and N3.49bn from January 2021 to September 2021 to tackle the pandemic.
Oke said from the documents and other submissions by the NCDC, parts of the money were paid into the private accounts of its staff which, he said, was against the procurement laws of Nigeria.
He said in two instances in 2020, N3.955m was allegedly paid to one Kemisalo Odimayo for the establishment of additional sample collection space and N792, 000 to one Musa Sokodabo for the construction of isolation and treatment centres in some states.
However, Adetifa directed the procurement officer of the NCDC, Dania Augustus, to explain why the payments were made to the staff of the agency.
The procurement officer explained that the funds were, in some instances, paid to the account of any staff who raised a memo for a particular expenditure, saying it was more expedient to pay into the private accounts due to the urgency of the COVID-19 response at the time.
He said: “Musa is a desk officer. That’s to say, he raised memos on issues and treated files and all that.
“What usually happens is that whoever raises a memo for an activity, when payment is to be made so that accounts can track record of payment, the initiator of that memo, his name is usually used”.
However, the committee dismissed the explanations by the procurement officer, saying the action was a violation of procurement laws.