House Asks Osinbajo to Swear in Minister-Designates from Kogi, Gombe

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C’ttee queries NDE over N717m bad loans
James Emejo in Abuja

The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a motion urging acting President Yemi Osinbajo to swear in and allocate portfolio and official duties to the minister-designate from Kogi and Gombe States within one week.

In a motion sponsored by Hon. Karimi Sunday (PDP, Kogi), Hon. Emmanuel Egwu, Hon. Binta Bello and Hon. Ali Isa, the House noted that since May 3, 2017 when the Senate confirmed the appointment of Prof. Stephen Ocheni and Suleiman Zarma Hassan as ministers from Kogi and Gombe States respectively, they have not been sworn-in or allocated any office, portfolio or ministry till now.

The lawmakers expressed concern that both Kogi and Gombe State were not represented in the Federal Executive Council (FEC), adding that the council as currently constituted is in flagrant breach of Section 14(2) and Section 147(3) of the 1999 Constitution.

Meanwhile, the House Committee on Public Accounts yesterday queried the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) over the disbursement of loans amounting to N1.4 billion out if which only about N717 million had not been recovered.
The NDE has disbursed N1,470,594,611.76 to beneficiaries of its skill acquisition scheme, since inception in 1987.
The lawmakers, however, found that only N287.95 million had been recovered by the agency.
Deputy Chairman of the committee, Hon. Ibrahim Baba, questioned the Director-General of the agency, Mr. Nasiru Ladan Mohammed on the issue, and noted that according to the report of the Auditor-General of the Federation to the Committee, the agency has seven queries to answer.

Subsequently, the lawmakers requested for the names and certificates of beneficiaries of the loans scheme.
The DG however told the committee that he was recently appointed to head the agency and that the loan was disbursed by the last administration of the agency but that nonetheless, he had submitted all requested documents by the committee.
The House Committee thereafter adjourned hearing on the issue to July 17, 2017, for a continuation of the session.
Also yesterday, the committee insisted that four staff of the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation must refund the sum of N46.1 million to the federation account within 40 days

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The committee further instructed the Permanent Secretary, Common Services Office (CSO), in the office Mr. Chaa Chinyeaka to ensure the payment and furnish the committee with evidence of the refund.
The directive of the committee was based on queries raised by the Office of the Auditor General for the Federation in 2013, and this prompted the lawmakers to query how the office expended over N46million for flight tickets and training in December 2011.

The committee also queried how the office expended N30 million for the training of three procurement officers in the South-west and N26 million for flight tickets and other minor issues.
A member of the committee, asked the Permanent Secretary to “Immediately furnish the committee’s secretariat with all the retirement receipts before the next hearing.”

Responding, Chinyeaka said as the “time this money was spent I was not the one in charge of this office then but I will gather all the requested documents and submit to the secretariat as directed.”
The Chairman of the committee, Hon. Kingsley Chinda, said: “We deliberately refused to put you on oath because you were not in charge then.”

Nonetheless, he ordered that the four staff (N.A. Ifekoya: B.O. Ajakaiye: I. O. A. Amadi and Etin Emmanuel Gibson) make a refund of the advances given them totalling N46,168,625.00 to the Consolidated Revenue Account, and that evidence of the payments must be submitted to the committee secretariat within 40 days.
The lawmaker warned MDAs against fabricating documents for the purpose of responding to the queries from his committee.
“The crime of forgery is still in our criminal statute,” he said and reminded all that any information given to parliament whether orally or in writing with intent to mislead the parliament is an offense with two years imprisonment.