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Humanitarian Affairs Ministry confirms N-Power funds diversion

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THE Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs Disaster Management and Social Development has confirmed the alleged collusion of musician, D’Banj, real name Oladipo Daniel Oyebanjo, with compromised government officials to introduce ghost workers into the Federal Government’s N-Power Programme and consequently divert millions of naira fraudulently into their coffers.

The Independent Corrupt Practices and other Offenses Commission (ICPC) had confirmed D’banj’s arrest and detention after investigations allegedly linked him to the sleaze involving hundreds of millions of naira meant for N-Power beneficiaries.

The ICPC reportedly sent several invitations to D’Banj, which he ignored in the alleged guise of performing abroad.

He was eventually arrested and detained after he reported at the ICPC’s office on Tuesday, December 6, for questioning after the commission alerted many security agencies for his arrest locally or abroad. After he was questioned, the ICPC turned down his request for administrative bail on the conviction that he would evade the court when charged.

The ICIR reports that N-Power is one of the Federal Government’s social investment programmes aimed at tackling youth unemployment and re-energizing public service delivery in four key sectors: education, agriculture, health and vocational training.

The President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government set up the programme in 2016 to reduce employment among the youth.

Most beneficiaries receive a stipend of N30,000, which is about $67 at the current N445 exchange rate. The government has often delayed the payment of the stipend from inception.

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There have been protests by the beneficiaries over the government’s non-payment of the stipend for months.

Meanwhile, over two years after the N-Power launch, the Federal Government boasted there were no ghost beneficiaries in the programme. It said it had blocked all avenues for compromising the programme.

But reports countered the government, showing how the ghost workers had received stipends for month.

In a statement signed by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, a doctor, on Wednesday, December 7, the government confirmed D’Banj’s arrest. It said the N-Power had engaged 1.5 million youths.

The ministry explained that media reports brought its attention to the “ongoing investigations in relation to fraud allegations in the programme”.

The statement added: “We wish to here state as follows: The Ministry has deployed a well-rounded mechanism for the selection of eligible beneficiaries from across the country, and this has been in place since the inception of the programme. Working with our service provider, program beneficiaries are onboarded, trained and deployed to pre-selected places of primary assignment.

“When it came to our notice that there may have been sharp practices by some personnel of the Payment Service Provider (PSP) involved in the payment processes of beneficiaries, the matter was immediately referred to ICPC for a thorough investigation. We are aware that certain persons have consequently been invited for interrogation as part of the ongoing investigations.”

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The Ministry said it had carried out thorough reinforcement of its systems to eliminate all anomalies and prevent similar occurrences in the future. 

While urging the beneficiaries to continue to render services wherever they are deployed, it vowed to work with the ICPC to support the successful determination of the investigation.

The Ministry appealed to the public to come forward with information on any irregularities noticed in the implementation of the National Social Investment Programme through the following channels; Email: npowersupport@nsip.gov.ng, npowerinfo@nsip.gov.ng. Phone: 0700 CALL NSIP, 070022556747 or 07030859183 for WhatsApp. 

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Marcus bears the light, and he beams it everywhere. He's a good governance and decent society advocate. He's the ICIR Reporter of the Year 2022. Contact him via email @ mfatunmole@icirnigeria.org.

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