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Reps summon health minister, perm sec over $300m malaria fund

The House of Representatives Committee on Anti-Malaria, HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis has summoned the Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Mohammed Ali Pate and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Daju Kachollom, to appear before it over allegations of misappropriation of $300 million provided to tackle malaria since 2021.

Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Amobi Godwin Oga, gave the directive after a resolution at its investigative hearing on Tuesday.

The minister and permanent secretary are to also respond to allegations that they denied indigenous manufacturers from getting contract for the procurement of insecticide treated nets and other related products.

According to the Committee chairman, the permanent secretary risks arrest as she has failed to honour the Committee’s invitation for three consecutive times.

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He expressed the Committee’s displeasure over the absence of the permanent secretary.

The Committee had raised the alarm that $3m was spent as the cost on the procurement process of antimalarial commodities by the ministry.

Ogah said, “Malaria is now an epidemic in Nigeria. The government has always wanted to help the people but 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 are inviting her to come and explain to us what has happened.

“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 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 be arrested if fails to honour the summons.”

He informed that the Committee had few weeks ago received a petition from a law firm on behalf of Rosies Textile Mills Limited.

The company had petitioned the Ministry of Health and permanent secretary for denying indigenous manufacturers of insecticide treated nets from participating in the contract for the procurement of the nets and other related products.

The minister and permanent secretary were given 72 hours to appear before the Committee.

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