Nigerian Ministers charged with corruption resign

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The two Ministers in Nigeria’s Health Ministry have resigned over corruption allegations and they are expected to face corruption charges, the presidency said in a statement on Tuesday.

Some 14 top officials of the ministry have also been placed on suspension over the alleged sharing of the unspent budget of the ministry, running into millions of naira, by the Ministers, top officials of the ministries and MPs from the Senate committee in charge of health.

The statement, signed by presidential spokesman Olusegun Adeniyi said President Yar’Adua had accepted ”the voluntary resignations of the Minister of Health, Prof. Adenike Grange, and the Minister of State (Health), Arc. Gabriel Aduku.”

”Both ministers are leaving the Federal Executive Council following charges of corruption brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). It is expected that without the burden of their ministerial duties, they will be better placed to respond to the charges against them,” the statement said.

The top ministry officials affected include the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Health, Prof. Simon Ogamdi; the Director of Administration, Dr. H.B. Oyedepo, and the Director of Finance, Hanafi Muhammed.

They were all alleged to have subverted the President’s directive on the return of unspent Budget 2007 funds to the Treasury.

The statement said the Minister of Labour, Dr. Hassan Muhammad Lawal, is to oversee the affairs of the Federal Ministry of Health until further notice.

Though the issue has been in the public domain for some time, the Minister has denied any wrong doing.

The issue is the biggest test yet of the Yar’Adua administration’s commitment to the fight against corruption in Africa’s most populous nation, widely regarded as being among the most corrupt nations in the world.

Last week, the opposition Action Congress (AC) called for punitive measures against all those who were involved in sharing the unspent budget, including the Chairperson of the Committee on Health in the Senate, Iyabo Obasanjo – daughter of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

”This development at the Health Ministry has raised a fundamental question: How widespread is this money-sharing exercise among federal ministries and parastatals? This can only be answered by a systems-wide investigation, which must start today.

”For the critical Health Ministry, it is sad, to say the least, that heartless public servants and Senators from the supervisory Committee on Health could be sharing money when millions are dying from lack of access to life saving drugs, lack of necessary equipment at public hospitals and incessant strikes by under-paid health workers,” AC said. Panapress.

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