Tuesday, June 21, 2016

$4million HIV Fraud: EFCC Arrests Health Workers

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arrested seven Nigerian health officials for their alleged role in criminally  diverting over $4 million meant for the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberclulosis and malaria.

The money is part of the funds awarded to Nigeria by the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Global Fund is an international financing organisation that supports countries in their fight against HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

A top EFCC Source told the Punch that the suspects were arrested following a directive by the Presidency that the culprits should be brought to book.

 The suspects, it was learnt, were from the Department of Health Planning, Research and Statistics, of the Federal Ministry of Health, which was in charge of managing the fund.
A source at the EFCC said, “The Presidency directed the Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, to investigate the matter. We have made arrests and we are currently compiling our report. We will send it to the Presidency and then charge the suspects to court.

“President Muhammadu Buhari was not happy that the money that was meant to be used in saving lives was stolen. We take this seriously just like the arms scam.”

Last May, Global Fund, through the Office of the Inspector-General of Police, alleged that Nigerian officials embezzled part of the fund.

Part of the irregularities it alleged included the payment of $20m to suppliers without confirming delivery and the failure to account for $3.7m supposedly spent on anti-retroviral drugs.

The organisation added that seven out of 10 Nigerian health officials and three consultants were linked to the misappropriation of funds through inflating hotel bills, falsifying receipts, claiming expenditures for travel not made, and colluding with and receiving kickbacks from hotel operators and suppliers.

In an email which was signed by Specialist, Editorial Team, Communications Department, Ibon Villelabeitia, the organisation said told the Punch that it was assisting the Federal Government with investigations.

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