Perm Sec opens can of worms on purchase of N7bn uncompleted building in Abuja

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Science and Technology, Dr Mohammed Bello, has denied all allegations of misconduct made against him.

The Federal Government had issued a query to Bello over alleged financial misconduct during his era in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development as Permanent Secretary

Bello, in a six-page response, said that all transactions at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development were approved through administrative process and principles as tradition demands in the conduct of government business.

Bello said the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono and the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the purchase of the building.

“While denying in totality all the allegations, I hereby forward my representations and response to all the false allegations contained in the query,” the permanent secretary said.

“I am constrained to give details of the transactions I approved to set the record straight and clear my name. I will like state the following that all transactions at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development were approved through administrative process and principles as tradition demands in the conduct of government business.

“That FMARD runs a rolling budget year in year out as most projects are being captured as ongoing; that all contracts/procurement and payments at the FMARD followed due process. There are procedures for contracts/procurement and payments handled by various departments in all government agencies, FMARD inclusive.

“That my tenure as Permanent Secretary at FMARD commenced from 10th January, 2019 to 18th December, 2019 and hence I cannot be held responsible or liable for actions prior to 10th January, 2019.

“I state that contractors were dully paid. The allegation of contractors not being paid is totally false. All contractors whose contract was captured in the 2018 budgetary allocation were paid in accordance to budgetary releases. However, contractors whose contracts are ongoing were rolled over as ongoing. Rollover capital projects are not new in contract management.

“I will state that due process was followed to the letter in the purchase of the said building. After submission of recommendation to the Minister of Agriculture, he approved that council memo be made to that effect. We then sent the memo to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation who then scheduled it for Federal Executive Council approval. Consequently, the Federal Executive Council approved the purchase of the building,” he said.

The Permanent Secretary, however, accused the minister and current Permanent Secretary, Mu’azu Abdulkadir, of being responsible for the allegations against him.

“It is worthy of note at this point that it is the current Permanent Secretary, FMARD who is actually guilty of virement as since after the approval of the above contracts has refused to sign and release letters of award of contract to the respective contractors but instead allegedly diverted and vired the funds to other projects in his locality that were never part of the appropriation, neither advertised nor bidded for. This is a case of unequivocal virement,” he said.

Meanwhile, contractors who handled the 2018 procurement for the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development have threatened to sue the ministry over N17 billion debt.

The contractors lamented that some some of are deceased because they could not bear the harassment from financial institutions where they had borrowed money to fund the project because they were not mobilized.

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