Service Wide Votes: Senate uncovers N2.2bn fraud by Justice Ministry
*Probes over 200 benefitting MDAs
Senate Committee on Public Accounts, said it has uncovered N2.2billion unaccounted expenditure perpetrated by the Federal Ministry of Justice from the Service Wide Votes, SWV, between 2017 to 2021.
The committee is also investigating over 200 agencies that benefited from Service Wide Votes, between the same period amounting to about N5trillion.
Service Wide Vote, SWV is also known as the Consolidated Revenue Fund Charge, and is the country’s contingency fund in the yearly budget.
Checks revealed that the SWV collected by the Ministry of Justice was not subjected to the scrutiny of the Office of Auditor General of the Federation, OAuGF, and the Senate standing committee mandated to oversight the agency.
Members of the committee were surprised during an investigative hearing at the weekend when it was discovered that the line item in the money collected from the Service Wide Votes in 2019 for capital project was put as “Critical Needs” according to the Authority to Incur Expenditure, AIE produced by the OAuGF.
The lawmakers were disturbed about the N650million earmarked for the “Critical Needs’ in the line item under capital expenditure.
Surprisingly, in the record of the ministry, there is nothing that revealed that N650 million was received, but the AIEs from the Office of Accountant General of the Federation revealed that N650 million was released for ‘Critical Need’ for capital expenditure in 2019.
In addition, N955million via AIEs was released to the ministry from SWV in 2017, but available record showed N549 million with a difference of N406million missing .
Also in 2018, the ministry claimed to have received N492 million, but the releases from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, showed that N591million was released which showed that N99million yet to be accounted for.
In 2019, the record from the Accountant General Office showed that the ministry collected N650million under capital project with line item of ‘Critical Need’, but the ministry failed to produce record that backed up the amount.
The ministry, according to record also collected N62million for recurrent in 2020.
Finally, in 2021, N1.4 billion was released from the Office of Accountant General through AIEs for recurrent expenditure, but the ministry claimed to have received N400 million.
However, the ministry was unable to present the letters of request and approval for the money collected from Service Wide Votes.
But the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mrs. B.E Jeddy said relevant documents would be searched and presented to the committee on November 10.
She assured the committee that the ministry would engage relevant departments that benefited from the fund and give feed back.
Speaking during the hearing, chairman of the committee, said that the fund was not audited by the Auditor General, because they are not budgetary provisions.
“It (the fund) was not audited by the Auditor General at all, they are not budgetary provision, go and tell everyone that benefited from it and give us the necessary documents,” Senator Urhoghide said.
PDP Crisis: Ortom, Fayose, Anyim, Others Get Soft Landing
…..Party Rescinds Sanctions
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has rescinded sanctions slammed on former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, and ex-Senate President, Pius Anyim, over alleged anti-party activities.
Benue Governor Samuel Ortom, Ibrahim Shema of Kastina state and other party Chieftains also sanctioned got soft landings after a crucial meeting of the national working committee of the party yesterday in Abuja
Recall that the party top shots were suspended by the embattled Iyorchia Ayu leadership over alleged anti party activities
But in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, yesterday Thursday, March 30, the party announced that its National Working Committee,NWC, has reversed the suspension of the party’s chieftains.
Ologunagba noted that the PDP NWC also reversed Governor Ortom’s referral to the party’s disciplinary committee.
He said: “The National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at its meeting today, Thursday, March 30, 2023, extensively discussed recent developments in the party.
“The NWC recognised the imperativeness of a total reconciliation among party leaders and critical stakeholders for a more cohesive Party in the overall interest of our teeming members and Nigerians in general.
“Consequent upon the above, the NWC reverses the referral of the Governor of Benue State, His Excellency, Dr. Samuel Ortom to the National Disciplinary Committee.
“The NWC in the same vein reverses the suspension of the following members of our great party: H.E Ibrahim Shema (Katsina State); Ayodele Fayose (Ekiti State); Sen. Pius Anyim (Ebonyi State); Prof. Dennis Ityavyar (Benue State); Dr. Aslam Aliyu (Zamfara State).
“This decision is without prejudice to the powers of the NWC to take necessary disciplinary action against any member of the party at any time pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution of the PDP (as amended in 2017).
“The NWC charges all leaders, critical stakeholders and teeming members of our party across the country to be guided by the provisions of the PDP Constitution (as amended in 2017) as well as the new spirit and necessity of reconciliation, unity, and harmony in our party at this critical time.
“The PDP must remain focused as we continue to take every necessary action to recover the stolen mandate freely given by Nigerians to our party and presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, on Saturday, February 25, 2023, at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal,” the PDP spokesperson stated.
DSS ING Alarm:Legal Means Can Be Deployed To Stop Tinubu’s Inauguration- HURIWA
Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA), yesterday said there was nothing wrong in applying legal means to stop the inauguration of the President-Elect, Bola Tinubu on May 29, 2023 because the February 25, 2023 election that produced him is still being actively challenged in court by leading candidates in the poll.
HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, said the so-called alarm raised by the Department of State Services (DSS) on Wednesday that some politicians are plotting an interim government should not be used as an obstacle to stop the petitions filed by Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) challenging Tinubu’s Victory
The DSS warning followed a petition by the Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Festus Keyamo that the DSS should invite Obi and his running mate, Datti Baba-Ahmed, over their rejection of Tinubu as the President-Elect.
Similarly, Atiku had earlier in March led a protest to the Abuja office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to reject the result of the February 25 poll declared by the electoral umpire.
Both Atiku and Obi alleged electoral malpractices in the poll and are in court to challenge the declaration of Tinubu as President-Elect by INEC.
HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “The Department of State Services should not rope in powerful opposition forces such as Peter Obi and Atiku Abubakar with a view to finding some frivolous charges to hang on their necks to frustrate their formidable petitions against the outcome of the February 25 presidential poll.
“The DSS must work for all of Nigeria and not work as errand boys of Tinubu and his allies who only recently made claims that some persons want to stop his swearing in. By the way, there is nothing wrong in applying legal means to stop his inauguration because the election is being actively challenged. Nothing should be used as obstacles to obstruct Obi and Atiku’s petitions.
He advised that ,“The DSS should go after arm smugglers, kidnappers, bandits and terrorists and leave politicking for politicians.”
Edo NUJ Felicitates Arase Over Appointment As Chairman PSC
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Edo State Council has felicitated with Solomon Arase, a retired Inspector General of Police on his appointment as Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC).
In a statement signed by the union Chairman, Comrade Festus Alenkhe, the union described the appointment as well deserved.
The union expressed optimism that Arase will bring his wealth of experience to bear in his new assignment to his father land.
The union prayed God Almighty to grant him the knowledge and wisdom to reposition the Police Service Commission for better service delivery.
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