Senate probes alleged diversion of N5bn IDPs fund

The Senate yesterday set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate what it described as embarrassing diversion of over N5 billion released by the Federal Government for the upkeep of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North East.

The fund is managed and supervised by the Presidency through a Presidential Committee on North East, and the Ministry of Agriculture.

Amid reports that 150 children die every 24 hours, the agencies have been accused of awarding fictitious contracts and of being indifferent to diversion of items meant for IDPs.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) yesterday launched a new operation in the fight against Boko Haram.
Codenamed, ‘Operation Forest Storm, the action aims to prevent the influx of Boko Haram insurgents from the northern part of Borno to the South.

NAF’s Chief of Training and Operations, Air Vice Marshal Ahmed Abdullahi Iya, made the disclosure at a news conference in Yola, Adamawa State.

“We have conducted surveillance, selected our targets and analysed very well before deciding on attack, mode and type of weapon to use. All these are carefully planned, and we do not foresee any collateral damage. So, there is no cause for alarm,” he said.

In a related development, the Special Task Force, Operation Safe Haven, in Plateau State, has commissioned the first batch of motorbikes, to aid operations in areas with difficult terrains.

The commander of the taskforce, Major General Rogers Nicholas, said the exercise would focus on security challenges among local communities.

The Senate expressed concern over poor handling of the humanitarian crisis in the North East, warning that thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) could die.

It indicted the executive arm of government for failing to provide relief materials to IDPs, to cushion the effects of lack of food and basic amenities in camps in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States.

Adopting a motion sponsored by Senator Baba Bashir Garbai and 18 others, the Senate alleged that over 4.5 million people were in dire need of assistance, and that 1 million others were in danger of extreme malnutrition.

Garbai said: “The Presidential Initiative on the North East, which was inaugurated by President Buhari, a year ago, to manage the crisis, is yet to show tangible result on ground, with over half of the money appropriated released

“I am also worried that notwithstanding the huge budgetary allocation by the National Assembly, and the various releases by the Executive, including significant donations from many donors, the situation on ground is not cheering.”

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