Reps Commence Probe Of N15BN Kashimbilla Power Project

The House of Representatives on Monday commenced investigation into over N15 billion allegedly misappropriated by Federal Ministry of Power for the implementation of the Kashimbilla hydropower project among others.

The House also summoned Managing Director/CEO of Aso Savings over the N2 billion housing loan audit query issued by the office of the Auditor General of the Federation (oAuGF) in 2015.

Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, Hon. Wole Oke who presided over the investigative hearing held at the National Assembly expressed displeasure over unabated breach of extant financial regulations and relevant provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) summoned all the staff of Ministry of Power who failed to retire the advances collected for more than five years.

It was revealed that staff listed in the audit queries obtained various sums including over N4 million as cash advance in breach of the circular which pegged the highest amount of N200,000 as advance cash that a staff can obtain at any given time.

While responding to the query on the N7 billion allocation, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Power, Mrs. Didi Esther Walson-Jack who earlier observed that the money was mopped up into the Treasury Single Account (TSA), explained that the fund must have been utilised.

She added that the Ministry secured relevant approvals from the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) and relevant regulatory agencies to domicile the N7 billion in the four commercial banks as at 2015.

She however noted that the four accounts domiciled with Access/Diamond, Heritage and Zenith Banks have been closed.since the ooeratiinalisation of the TSA.

On his part, the Director Finance and Administration, Mr. A. J. Omotayo added that the money allocated, adding that the customary tradition of payment of cash advance in Federal Ministry of Power without retirement has been drastically addressed.

The Committee however threatened to name and shame the public servants in question, maintained that “Nigeria is not a banana Republic”, just as the lawmakers warned that any staff who fail to retire the advance payment within one year should be made to pay from.his or her salary to the treasury.

While acknowledging that the Permanent Secretary admitted to the allegation bothering on extra-budgetary spending, he underscored the need for relevant sanctions to be meted out to the erring staff, just as he summoned all the staff listed in the audit query to.appear before the Committee within seven days.

Hon. Oke observed tbat public servants who failed to retire the multi-million naira advance payments “are still walking around freely,” reiterated the 9th Assembly’s resolve to support of President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-graft policy.

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