N500m GEJ Largesse To Rebuild Chibok School Diverted
About N500 million meant to rebuild a Chibok school may have been diverted, an official has said.
The money was announced by the past administration of President Goodluck Jonathan and was meant to rebuild the Government Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State, after Boko Haram insurgents destroyed it and kidnapped over 200 girls from the school in 2014.
Mr. Jonathan’s Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had flown to Chibok in March 2015 to inaugurate the N500 million rebuilding project under the Safe School Initiative programme.
A statement from the finance ministry said then that the new school was expected to have a state of the art library, a laboratory, a computer and ICT Centre, a sports arena and a clinic.
Two years after the foundation laying programme and announcement by the government, nothing appears to have been done in the school as students of the school remained at home.
It is not clear if the past administration did release part or all of the N500 million.
When he visited Chibok on Tuesday, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno called for detailed investigation of what happened to the N500 million.
Mr. Shettima told residents of Chibok that his administration would pressurise the Federal Government to uncover those who might have diverted the money.
The governor lamented that a lot of individuals and groups have turned the misfortune of Boko Haram victims into a money-making venture.
He said it was important to determine how much was released to the contractor handling the project as the school has remained in a state of disrepair.
Mr. Shettima first arrived in Chibok to celebrate Boxing Day with the residents of the town.
The governor who arrived Chibok town in the afternoon spent the whole Monday in the town where he participated in a series of activities slated for the Boxing Day.
A high point of the governor’s stay in Chibok was his meeting with the 21 schoolgirls that were freed by Boko Haram insurgents in October 2016.
The girls were freed following a deal the Federal Government had with Boko Haram.
The 21 girls who had been in custody of the Federal Government in Abuja were brought to Chibok in order to celebrate their first Christmas since their abduction over two years ago.
In Chibok, the girls were not allowed to savour the kind of freedom they were used to before their abduction. They were escorted by armed soldiers and officials of the State Security Service everywhere they went.
A leading online publication reported how the girls could not spend Christmas with their families despite being in Chibok.
A spokesperson to the state governor, Isa Gusau, said in a statement that “Governor Shettima hosted the girls to celebration mood at a Government building in Chibok”.
He said Mr. Shettima was accompanied by Mohammed Ndume, the Senate Majority Leader who represents Borno South where Chibok is located.
“The girls were very excited meeting Shettima again after they had met him in Abuja days after their freedom from Boko Haram’s captivity,” Mr. Gusau said.
Glory Dama, one of the 21 freed girls, presented a photo frame on behalf of her colleagues.
The frame was a photo they took with the governor after their rescue.
“Governor Shettima is a dear father,” the girls were quoted as saying.
Mr. Isa quoted the governor as expressing his happiness seeing their cheerful mood, even as he said the next concern had to be their future.
“As you know, 56 of your colleagues who escaped abduction are currently in two international schools where they have been since 2014,” Mr. Shettima told the girls who saw their parents same day.
“We are taking care of all their educational needs from school fees to other basics. Left to me, I would want the 21 of you to join them in those two schools so that you can all feel at home and move on. However, the Federal Government has a plan which we will jointly discuss and come up with a decision that is acceptable to you our daughters.
“President Muhammadu Buhari loves you so much and he is deeply concerned about our daughters that are yet to be freed. He is working on that and we are all working,” Mr. Shettima said.
The governor also seized the moment to politically motivate the people of Chibok by appointing one of the parents of the Chibok girls, who is also the chairman of association of the Chibok schoolgirls’ parents, Yakubu Keke, as the councillor of his ward, Mbalala..
Governor Shettima said Mr. Nkeki’s job is to use his office to oversee the welfare of all parents of the missing Chibok schoolgirls.
The governor also consoled parents whose daughters are yet to be released, promising that all hands are on deck to ensure the return of all the girls.
Mr. Shettima ordered the presentation of clothes to the girls and their parents.
The governor had earlier donated clothes to the girls in Abuja.
“Nothing is too much for these girls and their parents. They have suffered too much and deserve our support,” he said.
The governor left Chibok late Monday evening to pass the night in Askira-Uba, 40km from Chibok.
He returned to Chibok, Tuesday, to have a special meeting with parents of the girls where he lamented the N500 million school fund alleged diversion.
EFCC, PROBE ‘MISSING’ N500M CHIBOK SCHOOL FUND – ANTI-CORRUPTION GROUP
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has petitioned Ibrahim Magu, the acting Chairman Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, requesting him to “urgently begin a thorough, transparent and effective investigation into allegation that N500 million Safe School funds for Chibok girls, commissioned by former Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to rebuild the Government Girls School in Chibok, is missing and cannot be accounted for.”
The organisation urged the EFCC to “invite for questioning, and name and shame anyone suspected to be involved in the alleged diversion, including the contractors allegedly handling the project.”
In the petition dated December 27, 2016 and signed by SERAP senior staff attorney Timothy Adewale, the organisation said: “The allegation that N500m has been lost to corruption has resulted in denying the girls access to education, and shows the failure of the former President Goodluck Jonathan government to live up to Nigeria’s commitments under the global Safe School Declaration.”
The petition reads in part: “SERAP believes that the diversion of the funds will expose the school to attacks in the future. This is a fundamental breach of the country’s obligations including guarantees of non-repetition, which contribute to prevention and deterrence of future attacks.”
“SERAP urges the EFCC to work with the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to set up a mechanism to monitor government’s spending of the safe school funds in order to ensure that the funds are spent exactly to prevent and deter future attacks, and to allow the girls to go back to school as soon as possible.”
“SERAP is seriously concerned that the school has remained in a state of disrepair since the abduction of the girls, and students have remained at home.”
“SERAP is concerned that the alleged diversion of N500 million meant for reconstruction of Government Girls School in Chibok has directly violated the right to education of the girls, as guaranteed under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.”
“The diversion has undermined the obligation of the government to take step to the maximum of its available resources to achieve the right to education. The alleged diversion also shows a serious breach of anticorruption legislation including the EFCC Act, and Nigeria’s international obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption both of which the country has ratified.”
“The EFCC should ensure full accountability and bring to justice anyone found to be responsible for corruption and diversion of safe school funds. The EFCC should also ensure that all proceeds of corruption are recovered and returned back to the treasury.”
Source: Premium Times