The House of Representatives Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has given the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs two weeks ultimatum to provide evidence that it spends N43 million hiring cleaners annually.
The panel during deliberations on queries raised against the Ministry by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation also grilled the permanent secretary of the ministry, Aminu Bisalla, on how N4 million contract for light bulbs was executed without proper documentation.
The committee, chaired by Hon. Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers), directed that the Perm Sec to produce evidence of payment and bank statements within two weeks.
However, on the contract to supply light bulbs, the panel gave Bisalla one month, being a new Perm Sec in the Ministry to also provide prove of execution.
The lawmakers, as usual cautioned the bureaucrat on the implication of falsifying documents in a bid to mislead the committee, observing that the documents before them were contradictory.
“The financial regulations is very clear that no official can take more than 200 thousand. You have to tell us how many times this money was taken.
“We should be looking at who gave the money out and not who received the money. Query should be given to serve as deterrent,” chairman Chinda said in his ruling.
Responding to the query, the Perm Sec, who pleaded to be given little time to sort things out, reiterating his newness to the Ministry.
He added that the new leadership came on board just when the contract was being executed.
Notwithstanding, the committee charged him to provide the address and phone number of those, who were on ground when the contract was executed to explain to the House what transpired.
Reading out his ruling, Hon Chinda warned Bisalla not to do things that would put his future successor in trouble, just as the actions of his predecessor have caused him some sleep.
He said: “We have observed the excessive use of funds for advances, we have consistently frowned at it. Do not cause another Permanent Secretary to appear before the committee because of your behaviour.”
“We are aware that anything above 200 thousand should go through contract and we discovered that this provision is being abused.
“There is no clear evidence that these goods were brought to the store and the Ministry could not provide answer when it was queried.
“We will not hesitate to investigate this and the permanent secretary should furnish us with the address of James Nebo and he should come to us and tell us what happened and if the money was paid to government coffers. If he’s retired we should get his address and if he’s late, we should get his estate. You, the permanent secretary, should learn to comply with the government circular.
“The person we want to appear before us is Nelson Nebo. We are also interested to ensure that the transactions are genuine. Let us have the names of the officers,” the panel directed.
Hearing on the queries was adjourned to June 27 by 3 pm, with the permanent secretary expected to appear before the committee with details earlier demanded.