The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called for the probe of the allegations that ₦3.836 billion (about $10m) of public funds meant for the Federal Ministry of Health, teaching hospitals, medical centres, and National Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).In a statement on Monday in Lagos, SERAP urged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, to commence an investigation into the alleged stolen funds.
The organisation explained that the allegations were documented in Part 1 of the 2018 audited report released last week by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.
The group also requested the Nigerian leader to “promptly investigate the extent and patterns of widespread corruption in the Federal Ministry of Health, teaching hospitals, medical centres, neuro-psychiatric hospitals, National Health Insurance Scheme, and NAFDAC indicted in the audited report, and to clean up an apparently entrenched system of corruption in the health sector.”
“Corruption in the health sector can cause serious harm to individuals and society, especially the most vulnerable sectors of the population. These missing funds could have been used to provide access to quality healthcare for Nigerians and meet the requirements of the National Health Act, especially at a time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja spent without approval ₦13,910,000.00 to organize a 2-day Training and Bilateral discussion with Chief Medical Directors and Chairmen Medical Advisory Council and the Ministry of Budget and National Planning to prepare 2019 Personnel Budget. ₦4,860,000.00 was originally budgeted for the programme.
“The National Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) paid ₦48,885,845.00 for services not rendered and goods not supplied,” the letter to the Nigerian president said.
The group quoted the country’s Auditor-General as saying that NAFDAC used fake and fictitious receipts for these payments. “NAFDAC also paid ₦25,734,018.49 to companies/firms who were never awarded any contracts and never executed them,” the letter said.
Despite the anti-corruption posture of the government, corruption is rife in many government ministries, agencies, departments and state-run corporations.