Audit queries: Reps quiz PTAD over misappropriation of over N30bn pension fund

• Probe N32bn investment of Petroleum Equalization Fund

The House of Representatives on Thursday commenced an investigation into the alleged misappropriation of over N30 billion pension fund being administered by the Pension Transitional Arrangement Department (PTAD) between 2014 and 2016 respectively.

The breakdown of the various sums were contained in the audit queries issued by the office of the Auditor General of the Federation (oAuGF) against PTAD ranging from N16.2 billion expended between the first quarter of 2014 and September 2015; N2 million personal advance granted in cash to a staff for rental of a hall contrary to the circular issued on the October 27, 2008 and other extant financial regulations.

A representative of Auditor General of the Federation, Mr Bisi Fakowajo, explained that it was discovered in the market survey that event centres lease out halls at N900,000 per day on week-day and N1 million on weekend.

To the extent, the AGF which expressed dissatisfaction over the response provided directed the PTAD Executive Secretary to return the sum of N1.100 million over-invoiced amount to chest and subject it for audit verification.

In her response, PTAD Executive Secretary, Dr. Chioma Ejikeme who presented the responses to various queries, disclosed that whooping sum of N16.401 billion was allocated against the sum of N16.229 billion stated in the audit query, while the sum of N15.344 billion was expended against the sum of N12.628 billion stated in the audit query, leaving the balance of N1.081 billion which was included in the N2.7 billion transferred to the Treasury Single Account (TSA) in 2017 in line with the Presidential directive.

She added that the beneficiary of the N2 million cash payment had issues with his BVN and due to the urgency of the exercise due to hold the next day, the cash was given.

She, however, failed to provide necessary documentary evidence to support her claims, including various sums of payments of N4870 million, N151.154 million to for consultancy to some contractors without award letters and evidence of work carried out in the agency, as well as the sum of N1.460 million paid to a police officer called Barrister Ayira Timothy during verification of pensioner in contravention of the financial regulation 3117 and the Public Procurement Act 2007.

To this end, the Committee resolved to set up various Ad-hoc Committees that will verify the submissions of PTAD and make appropriate recommendations.

While reacting, Chairman of the Public Accounts, Hon. Wole Oke with the admittance that the beneficiary of the N2 million paid in cash for rental of the hall, said the sentence will be lighter, adding that the Committee will go for the evidence of the utilization of the public funds.

In a related development, the Committee also quizzed officials of a commercial bank over the audit query issued by oAuGF in respect of Petroleum Equalization Fund (Management) Board on non-payment of N100 million interest out of the total interest N182 million accrued on the N32 billion investment.

To this end, the Committee demanded the records showing the payment of the balance of N100 million.

He noted that another bank paid interest of over N300 million on the investment made by PEF, likewise, another bank made reasonable explanations on the similar investment made by the agency.

However, the Bank’s representatives stated that PEF had an investment of N1 billion at 3% per annum for a period of seven and half years of the relationship.

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