Dr Innocent Vakkai, Taraba Health Commissioner: denies embezzlement of COVID-19 funds

By Gabriel Yough

Dr Innocent Vakkai, the Taraba commissioner for Health, on Tuesday, denied local media reports that he embezzled the sum of N1.2 billion COVID-19 funds given to the state by the Federal Government to tackle the virus.

Vakkai, who is also the Chairman, Taraba Technical Committee On COVID -19, refuted the allegations at a media briefing, in Jalingo, saying that the publication was the imagination of the publisher and thus false, with no iota of truth.

He explained that all the monies sent to the state for support and management of COVID-19 were paid directly into the state government’s account and not to the committee or individuals.

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“I want to state here categorically that the state technical committee can only apply for funds through the Taraba government account section, we don’t have an account where support funds can be paid into for me to divert.

“If one is to apply for funds, one will first of all state reasons and items, why you need such funds, you also report back to the state government with receipts of your expenditure on how the funds were expended.

“The newspaper accused me of building a gigantic hospital in Abuja and Yola with COVID-19 funds, I want to tell the whole world that it is not true.

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“I have no single health care center to my name anywhere in Nigeria, let a alone a big hospital, I will be happy if he can go and point at these structures to anybody or even to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC),” Vakkai said.

Vakkai, however, said: “I also want to disclose that we collected a sum of N1 billion from the FG and the money was used to provide Personal Protection equipment for our frontline workers.

”We also used part of it to provide equipment for our two treatment centers at the Specialist Hospital, Jalingo, and General Hospital, Takum.

“We are a 30-man COVID-19 Technical Committee and how can I possibly manipulate these men and bypass the state government account section and divert even more than we have been supported with in the first place,” he said.

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In his reaction, Mr Danjuma Adamu, the state Commissioner for information and Orientation, who is also a member of the technical committee, described the news as fake, urging the public to disregard it.