An Auditor-General’s report has exposed how the Ministerial Tenders Board of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources allegedly paid N718 million to 11 firms for different services rendered without documents.
The audit report is currently being considered by the Senate Committee on Public Accounts, chaired by Matthew Urhoghide (Edo South).
The report shows that the contracts were awarded in 2014 when the former Head of Service (HoS), Danladi Kifasi, was the Permanent Secretary in the ministry.
Daily Trust reported that the ministry in a written submission presented by the Permanent Secretary Bitrus Bako Nabasu, said;
It also revealed that five consultancy jobs were awarded on July 14, 2014, while the project on training was awarded on October 17, 2014, and the payment was made in the 2015 budget.
The Auditor-General of the Federation (AuGF) alleged that the ministry failed to produce documents to support the genuineness of the payments, despite repeated requests.
He thus raised a query on the suspected anomaly.
The query reads: “An expenditure entry of N718.9 million was made in the cashbook as payment to 11 corporate bodies for different services rendered.
“Surprisingly, no further documents regarding this payment were produced for audit review, despite repeated requests, contrary to Financial Regulation 110, which states that ‘Auditor-General or his representative shall at all reasonable times have free access to books of accounts, files, safes, security documents and other records and information relating to the account of all Federal Ministries/Extra-ministerial offices and other arms of government or units’.
“Expenditure of this magnitude without documents explaining and supporting the genuineness of these payments cannot be accepted as legitimate charges against public funds.
“The Permanent Secretary has been requested to produce all documents, recover and pay to treasury the sum of N718.9 million being expenditure un-accounted for and furnish recovery particulars for verification.”
In its written submission by its Permanent Secretary, Bitrus Bako Nabasu, the ministry said: “Relevant documents were attached to facilitate raising of payment vouchers and the total amount paid to contractors was N494.1 million.”
But Senate Committee Chairman Urhoghide and a representative of the AuGF, Eyitayo Agesin, insisted that the documents attached to the vouchers were not sufficient to justify payment expenditure of that magnitude.
Urhoghide ordered refund of N718.9 million to the Federation Account by the officials involved in the award of the contracts.