By Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
Following the alleged diversion of N300 million budgeted for procurement of health care facilities at the Federal Medical Center, Gusau, youths from Zamfara State under the aegis of Health, Safety and Environment Charity Initiative, Tuesday protested in front of the headquarters of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), demanding that an investigation be conducted into the matter.
Speaking to newsmen, the leader of the group, Aminu Ahmad, after submitting a petition at the ICPC office, said the group came to notify ICPC of the diversion of N300 million meant for the procurement of health care facilities at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Gusau, Zamfara State.
The group said the project was a constituency project of Senator Kabir Garba Marafa for the benefit of his constituency.
It said the project was captured in the 2013 budget while the actual release of the funds for the project by the Federal Ministry of Finance to the Federal Ministry of Health was effected in 2013 but the project was not delivered.
“We are very surprised to discover that the project was not executed in Federal Medical Centre Gusau despite the release of the N300 million to the Federal Ministry of Health,” he said.
He alleged that “from available records we have, the former Minister of Health that served from 2011 to 2014, in connivance with the former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health had diverted the money”.
The group, therefore, sought the intervention of ICPC to get to the root of the matter.
“We seek your intervention, to kindly investigate the circumstances surrounding the diversion of the funds meant for the good people of Zamfara State with a view to righting the wrongs by ensuring full execution of the proposed project in FMC Gusau, Zamfara State to the benefit of the citizenry.”
He also said attached to the petition submitted to the ICPC copies of documents from the Federal Ministry of Finance confirming the release of the funds as well as other documents from the Federal Ministry of Finance on the issue in question.
Addressing the protesters, the spokesperson of the ICPC, Rasheedat Okoduwa, thanked them for not resorting to lawlessness.
“Now that you have submitted the petition we assure you that we shall look into it, any offence anybody commit or had committed since the establishment of ICPC and the passing of the law in 2000. Any offence of corruption committed falls under the purview of the ICPC and would be investigated,” she said.
On the ongoing investigation into constituency projects, Okoduwa said the constituency projects tracking committee set up in April and driven by a steering committee, made up of ICPC and other government agencies was tracking the utilisation of funds released for constituency projects.
“Ordinarily, ICPC will look into any petition on anything regarding corruption, whether it is constituency projects or any other thing, ICPC would look into such projects.”
“More so when it now fits into the format of the framework of these constituency projects we are tracking, definitely this would get some action, because it fits into the framework, it may be easy for us to extend the project to go track what is happening in Zamfara,” she added.