Fact-Check: Did Ekweremadu Divert N400m for UNTH Renal Centre?
Claim: A claim has been trending on the social media that a few years ago, a former Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu pocketed N400 million that was supposed to be used by the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) to fast-track funding for the construction of a renal centre.
Full text: The claim first surfaced on a Twitter account (@JustSociety) with over 21k followers.
The Twitter post (which was made on 26 March 2023 and had more than 3,000 retweets, 447 quote retweets, and 6,582 likes) was accompanied by a picture of Ekweremmadu behind bars stating: “Some years ago, the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital special project team approached the Deputy Senate President (Ike Ekweremmadu) to help them fast-track the funding for a project in the Hospital through a government intervention project
“He asked them to submit their proposal and they did, it was 400 million for Renal Centre. The N400m was to build the structure, procure equipment and train few doctors abroad for renal transplant and other special renal emergency training
“Ike Ekweremmadu asked them to double the money to N800m and the extra N400m will be for him to facilitate the release of the funds
“Ike Ekweremmadu later facilitated the release of 50% of the fund and diverted all of it even without the knowledge of UNTH
“After waiting for so long, UNTH made contact and was told they should submit the progress report for the project status in order to access the balance 50% alas they had nothing to show for the initial 50% and didn’t even know that oga Deputy Senate President has a taken N400m and moved.
“On May 5th this year, Ike Ekweremmadu will receive his jail sentence for trying to do a kidney transplant in the UK for his daughter whose kidney is failing.
“Ike Ekeremmadu pocketed N400m meant for building a Kidney Centre in his state where probably the daughter would have received a transplant without flying abroad and facing the stringent laws guiding organ transplant
“Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor? Who is the person? Karma is real,” it concluded.
On Facebook, a user by the name of Frank O. Ndubishi Gcfr posted screenshots of the above Twitter post commenting: “These are weighty allegations o, anyways let’s see how it all unfolds #Ekweremmadu”. The post had comments and other reactions.
Verification: PRNigeria fact-checkers began to investigate whether the allegations that Ekweremadu had pocketed N400 million with UNTH’s notice by entering the words “Ekweremadu”, and “UNTH Renal Centre” into a search engine.
The investigation had brought them not only to the Twitter post that the claim originated from but also a Nairaland Forum post that was made on the 27th of March 2023 had also posted this “news”.
Out of the 12 comments on the post, many of them were either skeptical or believing. Comments that expressed their skepticism at the posts were either rebuked by others.
PRNigeria then went on to search the websites of both the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital and the National Assembly.
On the UNTH website, it only mentioned that their Nurses in the Renal Unit were trained to operate dialysis machines and give Pre, Intra, and Post dialysis care to patients.
PRNigeria was unable to find anything on the National Assembly website regarding dialysis or a budget for a renal centre.
However, when PRNigeria dived further into their investigation, it finds an article on WithinNigeria where the Media Adviser to the Senator had refuted the allegations, describing them as “malicious”.
His words brought up some questions such as: If this were true, what year did this happen; where was the money paid to in the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital; why didn’t the UNTH bring up this issue; where is the proof of construction and where is the proof of payment?
Conclusion: Findings by PRNigeria after examining and investigating the indicate lack of documentary evidence as well as creating various unanswered questions on the allegation.
Therefore, PRNigeria concludes that there is INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE to prove the claim that Ekweremadu diverted N400 million allegedly budgeted for the UNTH to build a Renal Centre.
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