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Alleged $300m misappropriation: Reps c’ttee gives minister, perm sec 72hours ultimatum to appear

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Jonas Ezieke, Abuja

The House of Representatives Committee on Anti-Malaria, HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis on Tuesday gave the Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof.Mohammed Ali Pate, and the Permanent Secretary, Daju Kachollom, a 72-hour ultimatum to appear before it over allegations of the misappropriation of $300 million meant to tackle malaria since 2021.

 

The Committee resolved that the Permanent Secretary should be arrested if she fails to honour the summons, having failed to appear before the panel after three invitations.

They are also to answer questions on allegations of denying indigenous manufacturers of insecticidal nets from participating in the contract for the procurement of insecticidal nets and other related products.

Chairman of the House Committee, Hon Amobi Godwin Ogah, who read the resolutions, expressed the displeasure of the committee members about the absence of the Permanent Secretary.

He expressed worries
noting that the cost for just the procurement process of antimalarial commodities by the Ministry was over $3 million.

Ogah said, “Malaria is now an epidemic in Nigeria. The government has always wanted to help the people but most times the civil servants are our problem. This money has been made available since 2021. We have been inviting the Permanent Secretary. This is the third time we are inviting her to come and explain to us what has happened.

“Have they used the money? If they have not used the money, where is the money? It is a matter of simple explanation. But they have been running away, calling all manner of people to talk to us. But we are here to defend Nigerians. We were elected to represent our people. Nigerians cannot continue to die of malaria, even when government has made every necessary effort to see that eradication is being achieved by 2030.

“The National Assembly will no longer tolerate the attitude of civil servants taking parliament for a ride. Enough is enough. We are elected by our people to represent them. We are elected to talk for them and defend them. And we are talking about a disease that has turned to an epidemic. We will not hesitate to invoke our constitutional right to compel the Permanent Secretary be arrested if fails to honour the summons,” he said.

The Abia State born lawmaker further said that the Committee received a petition, few weeks ago from Seasons Law Firm on behalf of Rosies Textile Mills Limited in which they petitioned the Ministry of Health and Permanent Secretary for denying indigenous manufacturers of insecticidal nets from participating in the contract for the procurement of insecticidal nets and other related products.

He said, “Nigeria borrowed $100M from Islamic Bank which was approved by National Assembly in 2021 out of the $100M, $10M was grant and another $200M borrowed from World Bank in the same year for Impact Project (Malaria Financing Agreement). Making it a total of $300M.

“The resolution by National Assembly is that Local Content must be prioritized to enable local manufacturers, but the Ministry went ahead to contract UNOPS to do the procurement process at cost of over $3M for the purchase of anti-malaria commodities.

“Hon. Members, Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it is clear that the National Assembly have to intervene on this issue. Therefore, to forestall this matter ending in litigation to mediate, we ‘ll bring the parties involved to a round table with a view to resolving the matter amicably,” he said.

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