The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corp (NSCDC) on Monday announced the arrest of a suspect at a motor park in Borno State allegedly trying to divert books and other educational materials donated to schools in the state by the United Nations.
The agency said it had also intercepted the diversion of cartons of assorted food donated to the state by the World Food Programme (WFP) to combat malnutrition in the insurgency-ravaged state.
NSDC disclosed this on Monday in Maiduguri at a press conference organised by its Borno state command.
According to the State Commandant, Ibrahim Abdullahi, the agency acting on intelligence, traced the suspects to the motor park where they were trying to take the items outside the state.
He said the books were usually repackaged by the suspects for sale in the open market.
The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has been in the forefront of education support in Borno State, especially in resuscitation of schools crippled by Boko Haram.
"We have a case of diversion of books donated by foreign humanitarian agencies meant to cater for the educational needs of displaced children in IDP camps and schools in the state," said the NSCDC boss.
"When the culprits lay their hands on these books, they normally take them to the eastern part of the country where they would change the cover and then bring them back to the state and sell them at exorbitant prices."
He said the corps was able to intercept and recover cartons of such books with UNICEF inscription on them at the Borno Express transport terminal.
Mr. Abdullahi said the Civil Defence has also intercepted stolen food supplements donated to the state but being diverted from the state.
"We know these food supplements are meant for the malnourished children in the IDP camps. But sadly, as soon as the NGOs give these food supplements out, some person would go to the camps and buy them off at very cheap rate then go and sell them in the market at exorbitant prices," he said.
"When the suspects saw us coming for them, they took to their heels and left the goods. So we have taken possession of them and we are going to hand them over to the state emergency management agency (SEMA) so that they would be given to the persons they are meant for."
The NSCDC Commandant said investigations were still ongoing to unravel those involved in diverting the relief items donated to the state.
Efforts to speak with an arrested suspect in connection with diversion of books failed as the man said he was ill. PREMIUM TIMES saw the suspect at the clinic section of the NSCDC where he was lying on the bed.
He was later seen hurrying back to the detention cell as journalists were leaving the premises of the NSCDC.
The cases of food and relief items diversion by officials has been on for a long time in the state.
In May last year, a Borno State High Court sentenced a former local government chairman and one other top politician to two years in prison for stealing rice donated by foreign donors to internally displaced persons.
The two officers were convicted of converting N1.4 million being the proceeds from the sale of the 180 bags of rice stolen from an IDPs camp.