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Friday 7 October 2016

N270 Million Budgeted to Cut Grass in IDP Camp...Read Reaction of the House of Reps

Controversies have trailed a gargantuan amount of money budgeted for the clearing of shrubs in the Internally Displaced People's camps where people have continued to die as a result of hunger-induced ailments. As millions of Boko Haram victims begin to take refuge in the various Internally Displaced People's Camps across the country in anguish and excruciating pains, some unscrupulous Nigerians have been accused of waxing in opulence out of their predicament.
According to media reports, a mind-boggling sum of N270 million was reportedly budgeted for the clearing of weeds in IDP camps as a pseudo project to divert money into private pockets.
This has attracted the intervention of the Nigerian lawmakers in the lower house. According to the Vanguard, the House of Representatives committee investigating alleged diversion of funds and materials meant for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPS), especially the alleged use of N270m just to clear grass by the office of the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF) said it was being frustrated by the refusal of the SGF, Mr Babachir Lawal to appear before it.

The invitation was necessitated for the purpose of clarifying the controversial allocation which is a mockery of the sorry plight of the people.

The Committee on IDPs and the North-East Initiatives, mandated by the house to investigate the allegation had invited Lawal to explain how his office spent about N12 billion allocated for the IDPs’ challenges.

The committee is also investigating the expenditure of N270 million by the Presidential Initiative on the North-East (PINE) “on just clearing of grass’’. Also being probed by house committee is the purported allocation of N188.69 million for Nigerian refugees living in Minawao, Republic of Cameroon‎.

Expressing disappointment with the attitude of the SGF towards the committee, Chairman of the committee, Rep. Sani Zorro, said “The SGF who was slated to have appeared hasn’t showed up.” “He did not write to intimate us on why his office would not come to explain why issues of internally displaced persons‎ have remained un-encouraging, in spite of the billions of naira claimed to have been spent.

“The PINE officials said he’s at the villa.
“But, as the secretary to the government under whose office the rehabilitation of the North-East was placed, we had expected him to come to throw light on the financial expenses made by his office.

“We also expected him to explain the implementation framework being used to spend money.

“We have been inundated by reports of diversion of materials and funds meant for the rehabilitation of the IDPs, and the North-East and the scandal had led to international embarrassment for the country.

“Given the issues of credibility and integrity raised against the agency in charge of the North-East Initiative (PiNE) which falls under the SGF office, we had expected him to respect the invitation.”

However, testifying before the committee members, Executive Secretary in charge of the Presidential Initiative, Mr Umar Gulani, said that N270 million was awarded as contract. He said the contract was for the removal of 250 kilometres of “invasive plant species along river channels and simplified village irrigation scheme (phase II) in Komadugu Basin in Yobe’’.

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