The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts, (PAC), on Monday quizzed officials of the Police Service Commission over alleged extra-budgetary spending and unaccounted funds totalling N1,066,398,223.
The Committee Chaired by Dr Busayo Olluwole Oke (PDP-Osun) also kicked against the payments of some of the funds into private accounts of some PSC officials without retirement.
The Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation had issued six audit queries against the PSC in four years – 2013, 2015, 2018 and 2019 respectively
The office queried the N17,824,680 received from the Service Wide Vote in 2013, N1,853,456 in 2015, N336,696,142.65 in 2018, N400,000,000 in 2019, N17,733,944 in also 2019 and another N292,290,001.51 in 2019.
At the investigative hearing held by the committee in Abuja on Monday, the Permanent Secretary of the PSC, Mr Williams Alo and Director of Finance and Account, Brighten Saagwe, appeared before the lawmakers to make oral defence of the expenditures, following a written presentation by the Commission.
In its written defence, the PSC said the N17,824,680 from the SWV was “utilised in the payment of the severance allowances to former chairman and two full-time members of the commission whose tenure in office expired by effluxion of time on 14th April, 2013.”
The beneficiaries were DIG Parry B. Osayande (retd.) (N6,079,200), Honourable Justice S. O. Akintan (N5,872,740) and Alhaji Habu Daura (N5,872,740).
On the N1,853,456, the PSC said the money was the salary arrears of one Mr Asu James Ata. “The Commission via a letter (with) Reference Number PSC/1631/1 dated 1st December, 2015, requested the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (IPPIS Department) to pay the sum to the staff (member) whose IPPIS Number is 212412,” the response partly read.
While defending the N336,696,142.65, the PSC said it requested the then Minister of Finance, via a letter dated September 30, 2017, to pay 95 disengaged staff members of accumulated salaries and allowances totalling the amount.
On the N400m, the defence partly read, “The Police Service Commission in 2019 received the sum of N400,000,000 to enable it meet it its statutory obligation.
“Pursuant to its constitutional powers of oversight on the police, the Commission monitored the conduct of police officers deployed for election duty during the 2019 general elections in the country.
“The objective, besides instilling confidence the electoral process, is also aimed at strengthening the nascent democracy and ensuring professionalism in the officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), via a letter Ref: INEC/CH/GC/073/Vol.1, dated December 29, 2010, specifically gave the Commission the task of:
Monitoring the registration/election process, particularly the performance of police officers on election duties; train police officers on conduct during elections; develop a reward system for police officers who perform creditably during election; and develop and share with police a template for monitoring activities of police officers on election duties, including likely disciplinary and reward measures.”
The PSC said it spent N120,021,500 on procurement of six Toyota Hilux pick-up vans and another N279,978,500 on Duty Tour Allowances and equipment.
On the N17,733,944, the Commission said it paid a total sum of N13,528,846.94 as salary arrears to four workers while the balance of N4,205,097.06 was on December 31, 2019, “mopped up into the chest – Consolidated Revenue Account – via the Government Integrated Financial Management and Information System (GIFMIS).”
Defending the N292,290,001.51 expenditure, the PSC said it received the sum as capital supplementation to mobilise the contractors, who are handling the construction of the Commission’s headquarters located in the Jabi area of the Federal Capital Territory back to site.
“The amount was paid to Vita Construction Limited, a contractor handling the construction of the Police Service Commission’s corporate head office. The contract was awarded on 13th December, 2011,” The defence partly read.
However, the Committee was not satisfied with the defence of the Commission , saying that they were defective on the ground that the expenditures were not back with necessary documents and receipts
Consequently, the Chairman of the Committee directed the officials of the Commission to reappear before it on Thursday this week along with all documents and receipts in support of the expenses
He added that the Officials should also come along with the Contractor and the Consultant handling its Permanent Headquarters Jabi, Abuja over the audit query.
He set up a three man sub Committee to lookql into the submission of the Commission ahead of the Thursday’s appearance.
Senate urges FG to withhold statutory allocation to LGC without elected officials
The Senate has urged the Federal Government to henceforth withhold statutory allocation to the Local Governments Councils(LGC) without democratically elected leaders
In the last three months of August, September and October the Local Governments received N702.647b out of N1.006 shared for the three tiers of government in the period under review.
The legality or otherwise of the Federal Governmemt’s power to enforce the Senate’s recommendation is left for legal experts to analyse
The Senate’s recommendation came after debate on the Urgent Need to halt the erosion of democracy: the dissolution of elected Councils in Benue State sponsored by Sen. Moro, Abba Patrick (Benne South)
The senate condemned the arbitrary dissolution of democratically elected Local Government Councils in Benue and other states in Nigeria
It also resolved to urge the Federal Government to review the Benue State governor’s dissolution of the elected councils and constitution of caretaker committees and reinstate the elected council executive forthwith.
The upper legislative chamber urged the governor of Benue state to adhere to his oath of office to obey the rule of law and defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
While leading the debate Senator Moro he was dismayed by the dissolution of Democratically Elected Councils in Benue State,
According to him, replacing the elected chairmen with Caretaker Committees to is an aberration and alien to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended)
Quoting Section (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) he said it guarantees a system of local government by Democratically Elected Councils.
He insisted that it is the Constitutional responsibility of every state to ensure the existence of Local
Government Councils by law.
He indicated that there are subsisting court rulings directing the Governor, the House of Assembly, their agents, privies etc not to tamper with the tenure of the elected Councils
He therefore challenged the Governor/Government of Benue State to first appeale the outstanding judgments which has not been done adding that it is against the grain of the rule of law
Senator Adams Oshiomhole (Edo North) pointed out thatabout 16 states in Nigeria are currently without democratically elected council officials.
He urged the Senate to direct the Finance Minister to stop funding LGS without elected council officials.
Oshiomhole’s suggestion was supported by Senator Ali Ndume.
The senator representing Oyo North, Abdulfatai Buhari indicated that the Electoral Act should be amended to empower the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct local government elections.
The President of the senate Godswill Akpabio also frowned at the establishment of multiple federal agencies but advocated the creation of the National Electoral Commission for Local Government so that governors would no longer have overbearing influence on council polls
Tinubu asks Senate to endorse $8.6bn, €100m loans approved by Buhari’s govt
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has asked the Senate to give him the authorization to borrow $8,699,168,559 and €100 million to carryout critical projects across the country.
The president’s request was contained in a letter read at the commencement of plenary on Tuesday by Senate President Godswill Akpabio.
Tinubu, in the letter, explained that the request was part of the federal government 2022-2024 external borrowing plan approved by former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
He said the projects to be funded with the loan cuts across different sectors of the economy, and were selected based on economic evaluation and the expected contribution to the country’s development.
The letter reads, “I write in respect of the above subject and to submit the attached the federal government 2022-2024 external borrowing plan for consideration and early approval of the National Assembly to ensure prompt implementation of the projects.
“The Senate may wish to note that the past administration approved a 2022-2024 borrowing plan by the federal executive council (FEC) held on May 15, 2023.
“The projects cut across all sectors, with specific emphasis on infrastructure, agriculture, health, water supply, roads, security, and employment generation as well as financial management reforms.
“Consequently, the required approval is in the sum of $8,699,168,559 and €100 million.
“I would like to underscore the fact that the projects and programmes in the borrowing plan were selected based on economic evaluations as well as the expected contribution to the social economic development of the country, including employment generation, and skills acquisition.
“Given the nature of these facilities, and the need to return the country to normalcy, it has become necessary for the Senate to consider and approve the 2022- 2024 external abridged borrowing plan to enable the government deliver its responsibility to Nigerians.”
Niger Coup: Northern Senators ask ECOWAS to lift restrictions on Niger Republic
***Plead with Tinubu to restore electricity supply to Niger
The Northern Senators Forum on Monday called on President Bola Tinubu to as a matter of Urgency use his position as Chairman of ECOWAS to lift restrictions on Niger Republic in the interest of business and border community
They also demanded that Nigeria restore electricity supply to Niger Republic in line with the Nigeria-Niger treaty mandate.
The senators had in July on the heels of the military forceful take over of the democratically elected government in Niger, cautioned President Tinubu against use of Military power towards tackling the military coup, as they called for diplomatic options.
A communique issued at the end of their emergency meeting which was read by the chairman of the forum, Senator Abdul Ningi (Bauch Central) stated, “The forum on very strong terms condemn the spate of Military intervention in the democratic spaces in the West African subregion.
“The Northern Senators Forum in particular condemns the coup in Niger and urged the military junta in Niger to soften the relationship with the rest of ECOWAS military by setting free President Muhammed Bazoum and his immediate family to freely choose a country of his choice for asylum
They further urged the junta in Niger to bring about a transition time table that will last not more than two years.
They ask ECOWAS to lift restrictions on Niger Republic in the interest of business and border community.
“It is important that Nigeriens should not suffer because of the coup that took place just like we have seen what is happening in Gaza
“We ask the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Commander in chief of the Armed forces and of course the chairman of ECOWAS, President Muhammed Bola Tinubu to as a matter of humanitarian gesture restore electricity supply to Niger Republic in line with the Nigeria-Niger treaty mandate.
Ningi called on Nigerians and Nigerien to remember that they remain brothers, partners and Africans and above all, we remain human beings
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