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Corruption: Group calls for probe of Covid-19 CBN intervention fund disbursement



..Alleges officials collect bribes

By Ujah Gabriel, Kaduna

Group under the guise of Coalition of Nigerians United Against Poverty and Unemployment has called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, and other anti corruption Agencies to probe some acts of bribery allegation and corruption in the ongoing disbursement of the
N50 billion CBN COVID-19 Intervention Fund.

The Coalition’s National Chairman and Secretary, Mr Ohu Phillips and Alhaji Musa Usman, respectively, alleged that, some of the intended beneficiaries of the loan scheme have bittetly complained of informal extortion of money between
N100,000 and N250,000, from them by some of the officials handling the processes of the disbursement.

The coalition in a press statement in kaduna on Monday, stated that “This money is reportedly being paid to these shylock and unpattirotic officials by the targeted beneficiaries, hence, defeating good intention of the Federal Government.

“Sequel to these alleged unholy and obnoxious acts of these unpatriotic officials, a lot of Nigerians who cannot afford to give bribe will be criminally denied the opportunity to benefit from the invaluable gesture.

“Although a rumour may still remain a rumour, yet, the veracity of this grapevine-based allegations should be thoroughly investigated, with a view to forestalling their negative impact.

“Anyone who may be found wanting after the proposed probe should be appropriately sanctioned, not minding whose is gored,” the Coalition mulled.

It could be recalled that, CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, had, recently, announced a N50 billion COVID-19 Intervention Fund as a Targeted Credit Facility, a stimulus package to support households and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), to cushion the effects of the pandemic.

CBN mandated NIRSAL MFB, owned by the Bankers’ Committee (75 per cent), the CBN-funded Nigerian Incentive Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending NIRSAL, 15 per cent and Nigerian Postal Service (10 per cent) , to disburse the funds.

The NIRSAL Microfinance Bank (NMFB) has waived Business Plans as a mandatory requirement for loan applications from interested members of the public and business enterprises.

The Managing Director (MD), Mr Abubakar Kure, announced this, at a press conference, jointly addressed with the Director of Corporate Communications, of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Isaac Okoroafor.

The decision to waive Business Plans, the MD said, become necessary following the controversy generated by some applicants over the Business Plans fees paid to a third party.

Mr Kure said, “In order to stem further controversy, the management of NMFB has resolved that the Business Plan is no longer a mandatory requirement and a third party provision of a Business Plan is no longer compulsory.”

The process was already underway, with individual and corporate loan applications hitting over 80, 000, according to the MD.

However, the process got enmeshed in a controversy over the Business Plans’ fees, as complainants alleged it was a rip-off since the loan application was supposed to be free.

The CBN also announced that all successful applicants under the CBN COVID-19 Targeted Credit Facility whose accounts had not been credited should go to NIRSAL MFB online portal and input their account details in any bank of their choice.

The apex bank also said, “all successful Household and SME applicants who have submitted their account details for the CBN N50bn COVID-19 Targeted Credit Facility should expect their accounts to be credited within 48 hours of such submission,” adding,” if that doesn’t happen, they should call the facility’s hotline.”

It would also be recalled that, the CBN had announced that under the first batch of disbursements , N10.9bn had been approved to 14,331 beneficiaries, under the N50bn facility, out of which N4.1billion had been disbursed to 5,868 successful beneficiaries.

The bank had also waived the Guarantor Requirement on the loan, to further simplify its disbursement processes .

In a related development , a concerned Enterpreneur, Alhaji Zayyanu Aliyu,has lauded the CBN, for the invaluable gesture , which he noted , is capable of bolstering the socioeconomic growth of Nigeria .

According to Aliyu, the disbursement of the multi-billion naira intervention loan was the type of plausible economic recipes Nigerians had longed yearned for .

He added,” this giant stride by the Federal Government will further reduce unemployment , mitigate the dastardly effects of poverty , as well as further revolutionize the MSMEs sector.”

Aliyu also called on Nigerians to utilize the golden opportunity,even as he underscored the need to sensitize them on the tremendous benefits of the loan scgeme.

He added,: ” On the allegations, the anti corruption agencies need to act swiftly and do the needful. This is in order not to dissuade the intended beneficiaries, as well as deny them the opportunity to benefit from the noble gesture.

” The CBN and NIRSAL should also have internal control mechanisms to checkmate such nefarious illegal acts. These obnoxious acts may sabotage the government’s laudable efforts .

” I am also calling on the Governor of CBN to extend this gesture to the informal business sectors that were seriously crippled by the pandemic, hence, are facing myriad of formidable challenges to effectively operate.”

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