AGF query: Reps probe funds accrued to Presidential Committee on North East Initiative, TETFUND

The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts on Tuesday issued a 7-day ultimatum to Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, chairman, Presidential Committee on North-East Initiative (PCNEI) to appear with relevant documents on the financial activities of the Committee from 2011 and 2016.

Kingsley Chinda, Chairman of the Committee issued the directive at the National Assembly complex, Abuja, during an investigative hearing into the queries issued by the office of the Auditor General of the Federation (oAGF) on the ‘status enquiry on the financial activities of the commission’.

According to the Committee the Accounting officer of the Commission is to provide information/documents on: income and expenditure profile; full list of its capital project executed showing the project file, project location, name of contractor, total contract sum, date of award, amount paid to date, expected dated of completion, percentage of work done/state of completion/revoked/re-awarded/ ongoing; VAT/Withholding Tax of the contract; amount remitted to FIRS and a copy of contract file of each of the contract.

The Committee also requested for details of the bank statement of each contract, Commitee’s account number as well as nominal roll and monthly wages of staff, basic salary and allowance, cost of training fees, course, durations, cost of air ticket/transportation and estacode/DTA paid during the period under review.

Recall that the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo who chaired the 3-man investigative committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari in December, 2016 is yet to release the findings on the controversial N220 million   grass-cutting contract allegedly awarded to a firm owned by the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), David Babachir.

In the same vein, the Chinda-led Committee also threatened to arrest accounting officers of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) Abdulahi Bichi if he fails to appear before it next week Tuesday.

Chinda (PDP-Rivers), who frowned at the level of disregard to previous invitation sent by the Committee, lamented that: “the attitude of some of these agencies is irresponsible particularly now that the fight against corruption is raging and some MDAs will neglect invitation to answer queries raised by AuGF.

“This committee Will not hesitate to invoke Sections 88 and89 particularly Section 89c if they fail to appear before us next week Tuesday and based on this the Secretariat is hereby directed to within the next 24hours send a letter of summon to them with a validly signed acknowledgement.

Other lawmakers who frowned at the inordinate of the accounting officers of most of the MDAs invited to respond to oAGF queries, including Ossai Nicholas Ossai (PDP-Delta); Linus Okorie canvassed that erring officials that fail to appear should be made to face the full wrath of the law in line with Sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

The committee also directed Babatunde Fowler, FIRS Chairman to furnish it with all VAT receipts collected between 2009 and 2010 by Federal Ministry of Communication Technology.

This is to enable the committee verify four queries raised by the oAGF on VATs charged by the Ministry and all the companies charged for the allocation of Spectrum licences.

The lawmakers had expressed concerns over the unsatisfactory response from Gyar Iseni, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information on the VAT payments on Spectrum allocation to companies.

In his response to the lawmakers’ question, Iseni said: “since the Ministry was de-merged from Ministry of Information it became difficult for us to have their details.”

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