The Senate Committee on Public Accounts has exposed how the Ministry of Defence paid N968.8 million for the production and supply of medals and ribbons for the Armed Forces to celebrate an Independence Anniversary without approval from the Federal Executive Council and the Ministerial Tenders Board.
The 2015 Audit Report by the Auditor General of the Federation now before the Committee revealed how officials of the Ministry of Defence facilitated the payment for the contract despite the objection raised by the Deputy Director (Budget) in a memo dated 24th April. 2013.
The Senate Committee chaired by Senator Matthew Urhoghide (Edo South) however resolved to sustain the indictment against the Ministry due to the failure of its officials to appear before it to defend the allegation.
According to the Chairman, several invitations extended to the Ministry to explain its side of the story received no response, therefore its decision to sustain the query.
According to the report, the contract was awarded in 2010 and 50 per cent of the contract sum was paid to the contractor while the balance was paid on January 26, 2015 to the contractor.
The audit query reads, “The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry is expected to recover N968 million from the contractor and forward the payment for audit verification.
“A memo, dated 24th April, 2013, raised by DD (Deputy Director) Budget, had expressed misgivings about the way and manner the contract was awarded, further raising the doubt on the lack of transparency.
“A contract for the production and supply of medals and ribbons for Independence Anniversary for the Armed Forces of Nigeria was awarded at a total contract sum of N968, 830,000.00.
“The entire contract sum had been paid in January (2015). The sum N484,415,000.00 (Four hundred and eighty-four million, four hundred and fifteen thousand naira) was paid in 2010 representing 50% of the contract sum and the balance of N484,415,000.00 was paid on 26/01/2015 vide Payment Voucher No. 4001.
“Further examination of the Payment Voucher’s attachments revealed the following irregularities:
“There was no evidence of any Ministerial Tenders Board Meeting that considered this award, contrary to Financial Regulation 2921(i).
“The approval of the Permanent Secretary for the payment of the balance of N484, 415,000.00 is above his approval threshold.
“There was no evidence of Federal Executive Council approval, together with the Bureau of Public Procurement ‘No Objection Certificate.
“A memo, dated 24th April, 2013, raised by DD (Budget), had expressed misgivings about the way and manner the contract was awarded, further raising the doubt on the lack of transparency.
“The items (ribbons and medals) were not taken on Store Charge because there was no Store Receipt Voucher produced, in violation of Financial Regulations 2401 (i).
“The total sum of N968, 830,000 paid in respect of this contract could not be admitted as a legitimate charge against public funds.
“The Permanent Secretary has been requested to recover the sum of N968, 830,000.00, forwarding evidence of recovery to this office for audit verification.”