House C’ttee Probes Environment Ministry over N480m Scrapped Wealth Scheme


James Emejo in Abuja
The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts yesterday set up a sub-committee to investigate the scrapping of a wealth project of the Ministry of Environment after lavishing the sum of N480 million on the scheme which could not be accounted for.

The Chairman of the committee, Hon. Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers) had raised several issues over the disbursement of the monies based on queries raised by the Office of the Auditor General to the Federation (AuGF) in 2014.

Speaking during an investigative meeting with officials of the ministry, led by the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Ahmed Shehu, he said he ordered a project audit of the scheme in order to get to the root of the alleged scam.

The sub-committee is headed by Hon. Sunday Adepoju, who is also a seasoned chartered accountant.
Similarly, a former Permanent Secretary, Mr. Edem Akpan and three other directors have been summoned by the committee to explain their roles in the renewable energy project under the office of the Minister of Environment.

Members of the committee had bluntly condemned the documents submitted on the training programmes conducted for beneficiaries across two geo-political zones of the country.
But, Shehu had made a passionate appeal to the lawmakers to step down the query.
According to him, “We are all new in the ministry and we’ll take our time to furnish you the appropriate documents as soon as possible.”

Chinda however, warned him not to “allow your finance people mislead you, so bring the right documents such as receipts and dates of all transactions.
“If we suspect your documents we may be forced to subject it to a forensic audit and if there are discrepancies we hand you over to the anti-graft agencies to prosecute.”

The committee, which is solely empowered to demand accountability in the spending of public resources from agencies ‎of government recebtly gave the Director General of the Budget Office, Mr. Ben Akabueze four days to turn-in all documents relating to the sum of N2.65 million allegedly paid as premium to an insurance company in 2014.

The amount was said to have been paid in June, 2014 on six operational vehicles in the pool of the Budget Office.