Reps grill administrator of Presidential Amnesty Programme, demand records of ex-agitators’ payment

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC), of the House of Representatives on Tuesday quizzed the Interim Administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Col Dixon Dikio (rtd), over the 21 different audit queries raised by the office of the Auditor General of the Federation against the agency, raising the alarm that the programme had been grossly mismanaged over the years with gross violation of financial regulations.

At Tuesday’s sitting by the Committee chaired by Hon Busayo Oke (PDP-OSUN) during which only three queries could be taken, it was discovered that over N3.9 billion was reportedly expended by the agency with proper documents to back up the expenditures which angered the members of the Committee.

Consequently, the Committee had to adjourn for a week on the request of the Administrator who appealed to members, to allow him and his team more time to put their records in order, pleading that he was recently appointed to put all the important Programme of the Federal Government in proper shape for the purpose it was set up.

According to the first Audit, the Agency reportedly expended a whopping sum of over N3.7bn on a Programme for the Ex-Agitators and the payments were said to have violated the e-payment policy of the federal government, as the payment was made Into a single account instead of the individual beneficiaries accounts.

In his defence, however, the Director of Finance and Accounts of the programme Mr Ityohume Isaac claimed that the payments were made to the camp leaders of the former agitators, who in turned paid to those under them.

The DFA also added that not all the former agitators were on the Bank Verification Number (BVN), of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

However, the Committee Chairman ruled that the Agency should provide relevant documents on the expenditures detailing the number of the beneficiaries, the amount involved, their addresses and the names of the hotels used which they claimed issued them receipts

The Committee added that the details of the beneficiaries of the programme would also be published in three different national dailies for the members of the public to be able to raise objections where necessary and the relevant documents to be brought forward would be subjected to forensic Investigation.

Also, the Audit query accused the Agency of payment of N136m to two different contractors which the management could not give satisfactory accounts of the beneficiaries and the committee ordered for relevant documents about the contractors and amount paid, failure which the Auditor’s query would be sustained.

On the third query, the audit accused the Agency of approving a whopping sum of N79m to 11 individual as cash advancement without retirement of the same till date, which was described as a gross violation of financial regulations of the Federal Government.

The DFA in his defence could not give the required proof that the amount was retired and claimed that he was not in office when the incident happened.

This claimed angered the members and the Chairman ruled that the amount should be refunded to the covers of the Federal Government immediately.

When it got to the fourth query, the Administrator pleaded to the Committee to step down all the queries based on the advance of his team members to enable them put their records in order before coming back, which the Committee agreed

Attempts by the Administrator to exonerate himself and members of his team from the audit queries were faulted on the ground that government is a continuum and he is in charge and should take responsibility.

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