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July 14, 2024

Lawmakers probe alleged misuse of N81.2bn for planting 21 Million trees in 11 states

The House of Representatives convened yesterday to address concerns regarding the alleged misappropriation of funds by the National Agency for Great Green Wall (NAGGW), which purportedly spent a staggering N81.2 billion on a tree-planting initiative across 11 states.

The states in question include Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Adamawa, Yobe, and Borno.

The investigative hearing, conducted under the stewardship of Isma’ila Dabo, was centered on the “Utilisation of ecological funds released to NAGGW from 2015 till date.” During the proceedings, lawmakers expressed grave concern over apparent discrepancies in the financial records provided by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (oAGF), and the NAGGW itself.

The House of Representatives initially decided to investigate the utilization of ecological funds allocated to NAGGW in July, leading to the formation of an adhoc committee.

Scrutinizing documents submitted to the committee, lawmakers underscored several disconcerting financial allocations. Among these were N697.372 million, N500 million, and N480.657 million attributed to office accommodation renovations, with an additional N11.28 billion marked for capital and constituency projects.

One contentious issue raised by lawmakers was the extensive accumulation of funds within the agency’s accounts over the years, without the money being returned to the government’s coffers as per established financial regulations.

The lawmakers also expressed dissatisfaction with the absence of any financial audits conducted by the agency since its inception. Of particular concern was the substantial expenditure on purported capacity-building initiatives and other categories, which were deemed incongruent with the NAGGW’s primary mandates.

It is worth recalling that in 2015, the agency encountered a case of fraudulent money laundering involving N1 billion. The funds were illicitly transferred by certain officials from the Federal Ministry of Environment, but were subsequently recovered by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences (ICPC) Commission.

The investigators revealed that the fraudulent transactions were carried out in collaboration with certain financial institutions and Bureaux de Change.

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Mustapha Salisu

Mustapha Salisu is a graduate of BSc. Information and Media Studies from Bayero University Kano, with experience in Communication Skills as well as Public Relations.

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