Reps grill officials of Niger Delta Ministry over N62m alleged Dubai trip, mobile phones scam

⦁ Demand for valid documents or refund

The House of Representatives on Wednesday grilled top officials of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs over alleged Training programme scheduled for the Dubai Emirate in 2014 at the cost N48m.

Also, the officials of the Ministry led by the Permanent Secretary, Mrs Didi Watson-Jack were grilled over the purchase of Smart and tablets phones at the cost of N14m  without valid documents.

The House Committee on Public Accounts Chaired by Hon Wole Oke, however, gave the Permanent Secretary a seven-day ultimatum within which to furnish it with the relevant documents on the expenditures or be ready to refund the amounts to the covers of the Federal Government.

The expenditures bothered on the Audit query raised to the Ministry by the Auditor General of the Federation for the 2014 financial year.

According to the audit query, the Ministry claimed to have spent  N48m for a training programme for 23 members of staff of the Ministry without any evidence that it actually took place as claimed.

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Hon Oke disclosed that from the documents before the Committee: “There is no single receipt for the payments of airfares trip to and from Dubai, hotel accommodation, Visas and what have you.

“We also discovered that the original Company that made the submission for the Dubai trip was not the one the Ministry made the payment to.

“As a Parliament, this is not acceptable because it is against the financial regulation in the public service and we want to see all the necessary documents backing up the expenditure failure which the money will be refunded immediately.”

Also speaking on the N14m said have been paid to a Director in the Ministry for the purchase of 350 Smartphones and tablets for distribution to the staff and top officials of the Ministry as against financial regulation in the public service, Hon Oke gave the Permanent Secretary seven days within which to furnish the Committee the reasons why the amount would not be refunded immediately.

On the submission of the Permanent Secretary that she was new in the Ministry and that the query was also raised by the 8th National Assembly which had been answered, the Committee overruled her and insisted that there was no record to show that the query had been closed.

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