The Ministry of Petroleum and 113 other agencies, are currently enmeshed in alleged misappropriation of funds and other financial ‘discrepancies’, a report has revealed.
The report claims that in 2015, the ministry, headed by President Muhammadu Buhari and which had Emmanuel Kachikwu as minister of state, petroleum, at the time, bypassed the procurement process and ‘mismanaged’ over N244 million meant for the campaign awareness of the Petroleum Industry Bill recently signed into law by the president.
This is one of the many queries raised against the ministry by the Auditor-General after auditing its accounts for 2015.
Details of these queries are contained in the annual report of the Auditor-General of the Federation (AuGF) for 2015 submitted to the Senate by its Committee on Public Accounts in June.
In the report, a total of 114 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) were indicted and queried by the auditor-general for incessant violation of extant rules, some of which include alleged discrepancies, diversion of funds, non-retirement of personal advances within a financial year and grant of cash advances above approved limits.
A copy of the document obtained by PREMIUM TIMES disclosed that of the 114 MDAs queried by the auditor-general, 84 responded, made submissions and appeared before the Senate panel to defend the queries raised.
Twenty-one MDAs sent in written reports but did not appear before the committee.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported how the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) was queried by the Senate for spending N995 million on “store items” and paying salaries to dead officers as well as how the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) failed to recover N1.6 billion overpaid to oil marketers.
This newspaper also reported how the ministry of information abandoned projects worth over N390 million in 2015.
The AuGF said N145,591,400 was approved by the Ministerial Tenders Board (MTB) and paid to a management staffer, for the campaign awareness of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), instead of awarding the contract to competent and technically experienced companies through open competitive biddings.
Invoices and receipts of payments from the purported companies and agencies, whose services were engaged in the implementation of the awareness programme, were not tendered for audit, he said.
In its response, the ministry said “the Director of Press was involved and received the payment for the contract because of his wealth of experience, which helped to fast-track and reach out to target audience, in good time.”
But the Senate panel noted that there was no evidence to prove judicious utilisation of the money.
It also asked that officer(s) involved be identified and sanctioned in accordance with Rule 3106(3) of the Financial Regulations (FR) and members of the MTB be identified and sanctioned in line with Rule 3102 (ii) of the FR.
In another query, the AuGF said contrary to procurement process, an entry in the cashbook for the sum of N98.4 million was made in favour of an unnamed company for printing of leaflets for the awareness campaign programme for the PIB vide Payment Voucher No.
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