Senate orders communication ministry to account for N13.9b within 48 hours


The senate has given a 48 hours ultimatum to the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy to account for N13.9billion collected from service wide votes from 2017 to 2021.
The ultimatum was given on Tuesday when officials of the ministry appeared before the Senate Committee on Public Accounts.
The ultimatum followed the failure of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr William Alo, to produce documentary evidence on how the money was expended by the ministry during the period.
The committee chaired by Senator Mathew Urhoghide (PDP Edo South) had asked the permanent secretary for details of expenditure made from the collected service wide votes .
The committee was angry when the permanent secretary, along side the Director of Finance and Administration in the ministry, pleaded with the panel for more time to produce the documentary evidence after blabbering for several minutes .
Irked by his request , the committee Chairman said such a plea would not be granted after four months of enquiry on how the said funds were expended by the ministry .
He said based on records made available to the committee from the office of the Accountant General of the Federation, a total of N13.9billion was disbursed to the ministry from the service wide votes for special capital projects execution from 2017 to 2021.
Urhoghide said, “Series of letters have been written to your ministry since September last year for required explanations on how the Service Wide Votes were expended without prompt response .
“Only for you to come here today along with the DFA of the Ministry to beg for more time which would not be granted beyond Thursday this week because the committee must submit report to the Senate on how your Ministry and many of the other MDAs, are running away from explanations on spendings made from the Service Wide Votes .
“What the Committee and by extension, the Senate wants from your ministry are evidence of approval of the funds given , evidence of contracts awarded and executed from the funds .
“Accountability is key as far as public account or fund is concerned . The very purpose for which this committee was constitutionally created .
“Our findings on how the various MDAs spent the Service Wide Votes given to them , show that accountability and transparency were not adhered to which to us , is unacceptable .
“The consequence of is that your Ministry and other MDAs found wanting , would be made to cough out whatever amount mismanaged by way of returning them to the government coffers”.
The committee, however, asked the embattled permanent secretary to appear before it on Thursday.


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