Friday, April 19, 2024

Buhari queries permanent secretary over misappropriation of N48 billion

Nigeria president Muhammadu Buhari has queried the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Science and Technology, Mohammed Umar Bello, for allegedly incurring a contractual liability of over N48 billion despite the existence of a budgetary provision.

Bello was indicted for allegations of acts of misappropriation of funds, fraudulent transactions, and other misconducts in his former post of permanent secretary in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in the query issued on Buhari’s directive by the head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan on May 11, 2020.

“The attention of Mr President has been drawn to the acts of serious misconduct against you in your former post as the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on which he has given further directive,” Yemi-Esan said in a letter to Bello.

Bello was also alleged to have bought a property that can be described as an “uncompleted building” for the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for N7 billion without the approval of the Federal Capital Development Authority, FCDA.

Yemi-Esan said although there was a budgetary release of N98,405,763,678.68 in 2018 (which represents 99.44 of 2018 appropriation), but Bello did not pay the eligible contractors which led to the ministry having an outstanding contractual liability in the sum of N48.429,543,895.722.

“Under your leadership as the accounting officer, the ministry utilised the entire 2019 first quarter release of N7,737,208, 135.18 to pay for the 2018 contracts that were fully funded in 2018 which constitutes virement without authority,” Yemi-Esan said.

Bello supervised the alleged infractions when he held sway as the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

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He was also accused of giving out seven deep drilling rigs for borehole procured at N1.3 billion to some unnamed individuals under “fraudulent arrangements.”

“Under your watch as the accounting officer, the ministry procured seven deep drilling rigs for borehole at an average cost of N300,000,000. 00 without recourse to the Federal Executive Council; “(e) and in April, 2019, you gave out the seven rigs procured at over NI .3 billion to some individuals under fraudulent arrangements, without the approval of the minister; and one of the rigs linked to you is yet to be returned despite several written reminders,” Yemi-Esan said.

“You misapplied the intervention funds approved for the purchase of strategic grains and the establishment of the Rural Grazing Area Settlements in violation of extent Financial Regulations; two of such misapplications are the use of N2.026,838,775.25 to pay contractors and execute programmes from the funds released for emergency procurement of strategic grains which is unrelated to the purpose of the funds.

Yemi-Esan described the allegations against the permanent secretary as acts of serious misconduct which can lead to dismissal and gave the permanent secretary a 72-hour ultimatum to respond to the allegations.

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