Senate Wants Probe of Alleged Diversion of N2.5bn PHCN Funds

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By Deji Elumoye

The Senate has expressed deep concern over the alleged diversion of N2.5 billion proceeds from the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) by some officials of the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE).

It has therefore asked its committee on Public Account to ensure a thorough investigation of the alleged diversion of the funds by BPE officials to purchase property through Aso Savings and Loans.

The uncovering of the alleged misappropriation of funds by the BPE was sequel to the submission of the 2015 audit report of the Office of the Auditor General of Federation to the Senate.

Chairman of the Committee, Senator Mathew Urhogbide who was visibly angry yesterday over the reported diversion of N2.5 billion to Aso Savings and Loans, asked the representative of Director General of BPE, Mr. Ignatius Ayewoh who is the Director of Finance and General Services, specifically about who authorised the diversion.

Responding, Ayewoh said BPE did not obtain any approval from Debt Management Office (DMO), adding that “we did not have approval from DMO to pay N2.5bilion from proceed of PHCN to Aso Savings and Loans”.

The committee chairman thereafter demanded for list of all BPE staff that benefited from the said property, which he said should be submitted to the Committee on Wednesday.

Urhogbide said the committee would ask the Federal government to ensure recovery of the said fund lodged with Aso Savings and Loans.

BPE had in a written submission to the committee said, “This was a loan guarantee, but a fund placement at five per cent interest rate. It was used to negotiate a single digit interest rate to finance the bureau’s staff Housing scheme.

“There is an approval from the office of Accountant General of the Federation authorising the Bureau to establish a relationship with the organisation.

“Aso Savings and Loans has since September 2015 not be able to implement the directive by BPE to remit deposit to TSA. A committee chaired by Vice President is currently trying to resolve the issue with Aso savings and Loans Plc and about 16 MDAs are affected.

“Aso Savings and Loans Plc has offered the BPE some buildings and plots repayment of N70 monthly to defray the deposit with accrued interest”.