Ministry of Petroleum paid N718m to 11 contractors without documents ― Senate

• Queries Ministry of Finance N20m expenditure

The Senate has queried the Ministerial Tenders Board of Ministry of Petroleum Resources payment of N718 million to 11 corporate bodies without proper documentation.

The alleged financial mismanagement according to the Senate Committee on Public Accounts was uncovered by the office of the Auditor General of the Federation in its 2015 report.

Checks revealed that contracts that necessitated the payment were awarded in 2014.

Beneficiary companies of the consultancy contracts included Amho Nigeria Ltd (Contract for consultancy service on critical stakeholders workshop on Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) Policy Initiative at cost of N97.9m, Mimo Industrial Ltd (Contract for Consultancy Service on Project management for Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) Policy Framework Development ) at cost of N99.4 million, Peds Global Ventures (Contract for Consultancy Service on Surveillance and Monitoring of Environmental Restoration) at cost of N79.4 million.

Others were Crown-Tech Services Ltd ( Contract for Consultancy Service on Capacity building for Engineers to acquire Tools Surveillance and Monitoring of Environmental Restoration) at cost of N82.2 million, DayLight Engr Nigeria Ltd, (Contract for Consultancy Service on Survey of Oil and Gas Production and Utilisation in Nigeria) at cost of N48.1 million and Redbrick Consultants Ltd (Course Fees Oil and Gas) at contract sum of N26.6 million.

It was discovered that about five consultancy contracts were awarded on July 14, 2014 while project on training was awarded on October 17,2014 and the payment was made in the 2015 budget.

The Auditor General of the Federation in its report disclosed that despite several demands, the Ministry failed to produce documents to support the genuineness of the contracts.

The query by the office of Auditor General read in part: “An expenditure entry to N718.9 million was made in the cashbook as payment to eleven corporate bodies for different services rendered.

“Surprising, no further documents regarding this payment were produced for audit review despite repeated request, 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.”

The Ministry of Petroleum in its written submission presented by the Permanent Secretary, Bitrus Bako Nabasu, however, said: “Relevant documents were attached to facilitate raising of payment vouchers and the total amount paid to contractors was N494.1 million.”

Eyitayo Agesin, who represented the Auditor General of the Federation, Anthony Ayine, however insisted that documents attached to the vouchers were not enough to justify payment expenditure of that magnitude. His position was supported by Chairman of the Senate Committee, Senator Mathew Urhoghide.

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Urhoghide specifically ordered refund of N718.9 million back to the Federation Account by the government officials involved in the award of the contracts.

In another investigation, the Senate Committee sustained query of mismanagement of about N20 million against the Federal Ministry of Finance.

The lawmakers decision was sequel to failure by the Finance Ministry to honour several invitations extended to it by the Auditor General of the Federation.

The Chairman of the Committee expressed disaffection over the Finance Ministry failure to give accounts of its spending before the office of the Auditor General of the Federation.

He said the Committee had no other option than to sustain the Auditor General query against the Ministry.

The query reads, “A contract worth N2,477,900.00 (Two million, four hundred and seventy-seven thousand, nine hundred naira) was awarded by the Ministry. It was observed that the contractor submitted a quotation before the invitation to bid for the contract was approved. This is contrary to the contract process when a bidding invitation is first sent to the contractor before the quotation. Also the contractor’s tax clearance certificate was not provided by the contractor.

“The Permanent Secretary has been requested to explain these lapses.

“A sum of N2,768,760.54 (Two million, seven hundred and sixty-eight thousand, seven hundred and sixty naira, fifty-four kobo) which is equivalent of $13,919.00 (Thirteen thousand, nine hundred and nineteen dollars) were overpaid as estacode allowances to some staff of the Ministry on foreign tours. This overpayment was done as a result of transit days which were included in their estacode allowances.

“However, this is contrary to Sections 130106–130108 of the Public Service Rules which stipulates that such allowances are granted to enable staff pay for lodging and feeding expenses during official hours duly approved by the approving authority.

“The Permanent Secretary has been requested to compel all the staff involved in the irregularity to refund the excess estacode allowances to the Sub-treasury and forward the receipt to my office for confirmation.

“A total amount of N16,858,800.00 (Sixteen million, eight hundred and fifty-eight thousand, eight hundred naira) cash advances granted to some staff of the ministry between October and December, 2015 were not retired, contrary to Financial Regulation 420.

“The Permanent Secretary has been asked to compel the affected staff to retire the cash advances without further delay or deduct the amounts from the involved staff’s salary en-bloc and furnish my office with the retirement or deduction particulars for verification.

“These issues raised have been taken up with the Permanent Secretary and his response is still being awaited.”





Ministry of Petroleum paid N718m to 11 contractors without documents ― Senate

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