EFCC quizzes health ministry officials today over alleged money laundering, abuse of office
Operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) will today start the interrogation of some top management officials of the Federal Ministry of Health over allegations bordering largely on diversion of public funds and money laundering.The officials are also expected to offer explanations on allegations of criminal conspiracy, embezzlement and abuse of office.
In a letter to the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Health, dated May 23, 2016, the anti-graft agency listed some of the officials to be interrogated as the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Director of Finance and Account at the ministry.
Others are the Head of the Federal College of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Federal Ministry of Health and the Director of Health Planning, Research and Statistic/Head of Millennium Development Goals of the ministry.
From the schedule sighted by The Guardian, the Chief Executive Officer of the NCDC, Prof. Abdulsalami Nasidi and the Director Finance and Account at the ministry are scheduled to appear by 10:00 a.m. today (Tuesday) while the other officials would appear at the EFCC next day (Wednesday) by 10:00 a.m.
The letter entitled ‘Investigation Activities Invitation Letter’ read: “The Commission is investigating a case of criminal conspiracy, embezzlement, abuse of office, diversion of public funds and money laundering in which the following MDAs in your ministry featured.
“In view of the above, you are kindly requested to release the following officers for an interview with the undersigned as scheduled below.”
There have been intense allegations of misuse of Ebola fund, donor funds and several similar issues at the ministry.The affected officials could not be reached on the phone yesterday.But Dr. Nasidi told The Guardian in an earlier response at the weekend said that he had not received any summon.
He said: “I am not aware of any invitation to appear at the EFCC. I am just coming from Geneva where I went to attend the World Health Assembly with other ministry officials.”
EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, also denied knowledge of the invitation of the health officials.But President Muhammadu Buhari on May 9 ordered full investigations into the alleged misuse of millions of dollars support to Nigeria from the Global Fund to Fight Malaria, AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund).
The President, who was obviously worried by audit reports of the alleged misappropriation of the funding support, especially for HIV and malaria, directed the EFCC to investigate the issue and bring those found culpable to book.
Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said: “President Muhammadu Buhari 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.
“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.” The minister, therefore, assured that all indicted officials would be given fair hearing and those found guilty would be sanctioned to serve as deterrent to others.
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