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House of Representatives summon minister over alleged misuse of $300m anti-malaria fund

The House of Representatives Committee on Anti-Malaria, HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis on Tuesday gave the Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Mohammed Pate, and the Permanent Secretary, Daju Kachollom, a 72-hour ultimatum to appear before it over allegations of misuse of $300m meant to tackle malaria since 2021.

This is just as the committee threatened to order the arrest of the permanent secretary, Kachallom Daju, if she fails to honour the summons, having failed to appear before it after three invitations.

The duo are also expected to answer questions on allegations of denying indigenous manufacturers of insecticidal nets from participating in the contract for the procurement of the items and other related products.

The Chairman of the Committee and member representing Isuikwato/Umuneochi Federal Constituency, Abia State, Amobi Ogah, who read the committee’s resolutions on Tuesday at the National Assembly, expressed the displeasure of his members about the Permanent Secretary’s absence.

He said, “Nigeria borrowed $100m from the Islamic Bank, which was approved by the National Assembly in 2021.

“Out of the $100m, $10m was granted, and another $200m borrowed from World Bank in the same year for Impact Project (Malaria Financing Agreement), making it a total of $300m

“The resolution by the National Assembly is that local content must be prioritised to encourage local manufacturers, but the ministry went ahead to contract the United Nations Office for Project Services  to do the procurement process at a cost of over $3m for the purchase of anti-malaria commodities.”

Describing malaria as an epidemic in Nigeria, Ogah said the government has always wanted to help the people, adding that “Most times, the civil servants are our problem. This money has been made available since 2021. We have been inviting the Permanent Secretary. This is the third time we have invited her to come and explain to us what has happened.”

He continued, “Have they used the money? If they have not used the money, where is the money? It is a matter of simple explanation. But they have been running away, calling all manner of people to talk to us. But we are here to defend Nigerians. We were elected to represent our people. Nigerians cannot continue to die of malaria, even when the government has made every necessary effort to see that eradication is being achieved by 2030.

“The National Assembly will no longer tolerate the attitude of civil servants taking parliament for a ride. Enough is enough. We are elected by our people to represent them. We are elected to talk for them and defend them. And we are talking about a disease that has turned to an epidemic. We will not hesitate to invoke our constitutional right to compel the Permanent Secretary to be arrested if she fails to honour the summons.”.

The lawmaker noted that a few weeks ago, the committee received a petition from Seasons Law Firm on behalf of Rosies Textile Mills Limited, accusing the Ministry of Health and Permanent Secretary for denying indigenous manufacturers of insecticidal nets from participating in the contract for the procurement of insecticidal nets and other related products.

Ogah called for the parliament’s intervention to address the issue.

“It is clear that the National Assembly has to intervene on this issue.  We are going to intervene to forestall this matter ending in litigation. We will mediate and bring the parties involved to a round table with a view to resolving the matter amicably,” he assured.

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