Reps Summon Women Affairs Minister Over ₦1.5 Billion Owed Contractors

Reps Summon Women Affairs Minister Over ₦1.5 Billion Owed Contractors

The House of Representatives Committee on Women Affairs and Social Development has issued a summons to the Minister in charge of the Ministry of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy-Ohaneye, concerning an alleged ₦1.5 billion debt owed to contractors.

The summoning follows an investigative hearing held by the committee on Thursday, during which several financial irregularities were highlighted.

During the proceedings, Rep. Kafilat Ogbara, Chairperson of the committee, ordered the immediate cessation of all contract processes for 2024 by the Ministry until the unclear circumstances surrounding the ₦1.5 billion are thoroughly investigated and resolved.

This directive came after revelations that the Ministry had embarked on awarding new contracts not included in the 2023 budget, while still owing substantial amounts to previous contractors.

The committee’s investigation into the Ministry of Women’s Affairs was prompted by a petition from contractors who claimed they had not been paid for completed works.

It is alleged that the Ministry diverted the funds meant for these payments to initiate new contracts across 15 states, actions that were not approved in the 2023 Appropriation Act.

Furthermore, the committee scrutinized the purchase of seven tricycles for a military barracks in Abuja, questioning the allocation of funds for these items.

Adding to the Ministry’s woes, Rep. Ogbara disclosed that the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) is conducting a separate probe into the Ministry’s overhead releases for November and December 2023, which total ₦1.5 billion.

These investigations are part of broader efforts to ensure accountability and transparency in the use of public funds.

Responding to the committee’s inquiries, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Ambassador Gabriel Aduda, detailed the financial activities of the past year.

He noted that of the ₦13.6 billion budgeted in 2023, only ₦3.4 billion was released and utilized, leaving an unreleased balance of ₦10.2 billion.

The Director of Finance, Aloy Ifeakandu, who assumed his role in September 2023, stated his unawareness of prior discrepancies but affirmed that all contractor payments could be traced through individual files.