President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to commence full investigation of alleged embezzlement of grants Nigeria received from an international donor agency, Global Funds, between 2010 and 2014. Daily Times had exclusively reported on Monday the indictment of the management of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) for incompetence and mismanagement of grants for the fight against HIV/AIDS, as reported by The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in a report it published on Sunday.
Also indicted were officials of the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP), and the Department of Planning Research, Federal Ministry of Health (DPR-FMOH). According to the ICIJ report, Global Funds had committed more than $1.4 billion to the fight against HIV/ AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis in Nigeria since 2003. The ICIJ report quoted Global Funds as saying its investigators found “extensive evidence of systematic embezzlement of program funds, fraudulent practices and collusion by DPRS staff and consultants assigned to the Global Fund-financed program.”
It added: “The OIG found some form of irregularity or fraud in most vouchers reviewed (from 2010 to 2014). Seven of the ten staff and three consultants assigned to the program were involved or linked to the misappropriation of funds.” Confirming the presidential probe order, the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, said Buhari gave the order to country’s anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). “President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR gave the directive as part of government’s effort and commitment to fight corruption in the country.
The President has also directed the Secretary to the Government of Federation to review earlier audit reports from the Office of Inspector General (OIG)”, he said. A statement by the Federal Ministry of Health, signed by the Director Media & Public Relations, Mrs. Boade Akinola, said, following the directive, the SGF has set-up two high-powered investigative panels to review all affected programmes and the financial transactions connected to the appropriation of the funds. Consequently, the Secretary to the Federal Government has set-up two investigative panels to look into the affected programmes and the financial transactions. The first panel, headed by Mr. Adewole, will conduct in-depth review of all programmes while the second panel, chaired by Auditor General of the Federation –Mr Samuel Ukura, will review all financial transactions during the period.
The two committees are expected to submit their reports within four weeks. “Mr President assured members of the international community that all funds received by Nigeria would be well utilised and accounted for under his watch to avoid national embarrassment,” Mr. Adewole said. He further said all indicted officials would be given fair hearing and those found guilty would be sanctioned to serve as deterrent to others. On May 3, Global Funds announced that its Inspector General (OIG) audit of grants in Nigeria identified significant problems in procurement, supply chain, financial and program management.
The announcement said, “The auditors found discrepancies of over US$4 million between drugs ordered and delivered; US$20 million paid to suppliers without confirmation of delivery; stock-outs of eight months for critical medicines; and a total of US $7.65 million in unsupported expenditures. The Global Fund is reviewing corrective measures, particularly with regard to risk management, identified by the OIG as the root cause of many of the issues. “With more than US$1.4 billion invested since 2003, Nigeria represents the Global Fund’s largest portfolio.
Programs to date have contributed to 750,000 people living with HIV/AIDS currently on antiretroviral therapy, 310,000 new smear-positive tuberculosis cases detected and treated and 93.4 million insecticide-treated mosquito nets distributed to prevent the spread of malaria. “Regarding procurement, the OIG found that Principal Recipients, the National Agency for the Control of AIDS and the National Malaria Elimination Program do not monitor the deliveries to the central medical store in Lagos of drugs arriving through the Global Fund’s Pooled Procurement Mechanism (a system that allows the Global Fund to bulk order health commodities at favorable prices). “This resulted in discrepancies in antiretroviral drugs deliveries of US$3.7 million from 2013 to September 2015 and US$0.5 million in artemisinin-based combination therapy drugs. The OIG also identified payments amounting to US$20 million made to a procurement agent without confirmation of services rendered or goods delivered.