NewsReps Committee Adjourns Investigative Hearing On Women Affairs Ministry Indefinitely

Reps Committee Adjourns Investigative Hearing On Women Affairs Ministry Indefinitely

July 10, (THEWILL) – The House of Representatives Committee on Women’s Affairs and Social Development has adjourned indefinitely, its investigative hearing on alleged misappropriation, overspending and failure to pay contractors, who executed projects for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs.

THEWILL earlier reported that the Committee had summoned the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Uju Kennedy-Ohaneye, to appear before it over the alleged failure of her Ministry to account for N1.5 billion meant for the payment of old contractors.

Chairman of the Committee, Khilifat Ogbara, had issued the summon at an investigative hearing organised by the Committee following a petition by some of the contractors.

The panel ordered the Ministry to halt the execution of contracts in the 2024 budget until issues relating to the N1.5 billion are resolved, directed the Ministry to furnish it with details of the Special Account created for the Chibok girls, as well as the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the American University of Nigeria, Yola, for the payment of the school fees of the Chibok girls for seven years.

The committee also sought explanations on various expenditures including funds allocated annually to the African First Ladies Mission project and the N45 million allegedly spent on the New Year party for children, as well as N20 million for sanitary pads and N1.5 million for vehicle fuel.

Earlier, Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Ambassador Gabriel Aduda, explained that in “2023 we had a total budget of N13.6billion, the total release was N3.4billion, translating to 25 percent, budget utilisation, while unreleased balance stood at N10.2billion.”

However, upon her appearance before the Committee on Wednesday, Kennedy-Ohaneye denied the allegations of misappropriation, overspending, and non-payment to contractors.

“On the issue of the contract, even the ones given when I was there, they have not been paid. So there is no partiality, except that we are underfunded. We don’t have money”, she said.

However the session got heated as various members grilled her on contractors’ payment, the money allocation for the African First Ladies Mission and other expenditures by the Ministry.

The Committee emphasised that the probe was not a witch-hunt but a necessary step to ensure contractors, who fulfilled their obligations received payment.

“We must work together to identify and address any instances of misappropriation, non-execution of contracts or breaches of the procurement act”, Ogbara said.

When it seemed obvious there would be no headway in the hearing, Ogbara had to adjourn indefinitely.

“We are going to adjourn Sine Die and I hope by the time we call the Minister and her team again they will be able to behave themselves”, the Committee Chairman said.

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