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Reps probe spendings, contract irregularities in Defence Ministry

House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts has commenced investigation into the
N3.201 billion expenditures not captured in the cashbook of Ministry of Defence as at September 2010 as well as N854 million lodged in the bank by the ministry but not reflected in the ministry’s cashbook. The revelations followed audit report of 2010 by the Office of Accountant-General of the Federation, contained in a petition to the House of Representatives.
According to the petition, the ministry in 2011 further condoned wasteful expenditures of N2.538 million for duty tour involving seven officials of the ministry, whereas receipts and fare tickets tendered by the officials as supporting evidences were not convincing to indicate that the officials actually embarked on the journey.

But Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Ambassador Danjuma Sheni, who led a delegation from the ministry in response to the invitation of the committee regarding the query, said that he had not resumed at the ministry at the time of the occurrences, and pleaded for more time to enable him verify the allegations and report back to the committee.
Granting his request, Chairman of the House committee, Kingsley Chinda, said the allegations extended to 2013 when the permanent secretary had resumed in the ministry where the office of Auditor-General of the Federation in a third point allegation claimed contract irregularities of N49.998 million for the equipping of the ministry’s liaison office at the House of Representatives wing of National Assembly.
The committee members wondered why the ministry had since then been unable to back up its claim of the contract with crucial documents such as vouchers, contract agreement, payment receipts and evidences of items delivered.
Meanwhile, with the threats by members of the committee to accuse some officials of the ministry, including its Director of Finance and Accounts, Mr. John Eboigbe, who had sworn under oath alongside the Permanent Secretary to be transparent in their submissions, Sheni further begged for more time to enable him return and deploy internal mechanisms for disciplining any official that may be found wanting in the alleged contract indiscretion and arbitrary compilation of the documents, which he had submitted to the committee and were misleading the committee members.
Eboigbe had severally attempted to defend the numerous topographical and structural inconsistencies contained in the documents despite obvious lapses that were being pointed out in the ministry’s typewritten defenses by the members.
Chinda, who said the committee had resolved to embark on status inspection of the ministry’s liaison office and write Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to ascertain the status of DEND Nigeria Investment Ltd that handled the way bills of the said items used for equipping the liaison office, adjourned further hearing on the three allegations to July 12, 2016 when the ministry would be expected to come along with the procurement officer, Mr. Ben Amotu, who was in the ministry within the years under investigation and the evidences that the committee had sought to see.

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