Senate orders Works Ministry to refund N692m over alleged fictitious contracts.

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By Fadehan Oyeyemi

The Senate has ordered the Federal Ministry of Works to refund into the nation’s purse a whopping sum of N692 million allegedly spent on fictitious contracts as contained in the 2018 report of the Auditor General for the Federation, AuGF.

The Red Chamber arrived at the decision after the consideration of the report by its Committee on Public Accounts, which discovered that a contract of N343 million was awarded for the purchase of project monitoring vehicles without due process and without vehicles being supplied.

Another contract, as added in the report, was awarded for services and the purchase of vehicle spare parts, computer accessories, photocopying machine parts and for designing of the country’s roads and bridges at N139 million.

It was also alleged in the report that N210 million meant for documentary was split into N130 million and N80 million and paid into a staff account, which contravenes financial regulation.

The Senate panel, chaired by Senator Mathew Urhoghide (PDP Edo South), said it sent a series of invitations to the Ministry of Works to defend the allegations raised by the Auditor General for the Federation without response from affected officials which according to him, caused sustenance of the queries.

The queries read: “Audit observed that the sum of N343 million was paid for the purchase of 36 project monitoring vehicles without following due process.

“Further examination revealed that the 36 vehicles were not received into the store as there was no document to show such delivery.

“Audit observed that advances in the sum of N139 million were granted on service and direct purchase of vehicles spare parts, computer accessories, photocopying machine parts for the design of Nigerian roads and bridges.

“There was no store record of those items to show that they were purchased.

“Audit observed that N210 million meant for documentary was split into N130 million and N80 million paid into a staff account contravening FR 713.

“Further examination revealed that the sum of N130 million was purportedly used for the capture of developmental projects, which included other ministries like Finance, Agriculture, Transport, Petroleum Resources, Mines and Steel, Trade and investment.

“There was no receipt or retirement particulars attached to the payment vouchers to justify the payments.

“The approval for the sum of N80 million was made to the Director of Finance and Account, which was above his approval limit.

“There was no evidence to show who the producer of the documentary was, or whether they were selected on a competitive basis.

“There was no evidence to show the work was actually done.”

Consequently, as recommended by its committee, the Senate sustained the queries and ordered the ministry, through its Permanent Secretary, to account for the fund and pay it back to the Consolidated Revenue Fund, CRF.

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