House Summons Finance Minister, AGF over $36.1m World Bank Loan

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Ahmed Idris

* Probes N7bn paid to inspection company

Udora Orizu in Abuja

The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts has summoned the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed and the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, to appear before it to explain the terms of agreement regarding the multilateral loan of $36.1 million and grant of $1.5 million from world bank and other development partners.

Recall that, on November 19, the Hon. Wole Oke-led panel asked the Director General of the Budget Office, Ben Akabueze, to explain why the office of the OAUGF was grossly underfunded.

Akabueze had in his response, faulted the notion that the OAuGF was grossly underfunded, saying that the office of the Auditor-General receives substantial resources from development partners, which includes $36.1 million multilateral loan and grant of $1.5 million from the world bank.

Addressing the Committee, at the resumed investigative hearing, the Acting Auditor-General of the Federation, Mr. Aghughu Adolphus told the committee that he was not privy to the collection of the loan or aware of the conditions attached to it.

Regarding the $1.5 million grant, he said $200,000 has been sitting in the account of his establishment untouched, but there was no funds to fulfill the condition of accessing the loan or the grant.

The committee expressed shock by the terms of agreement of the World Bank loan, wondering how the condition for the loan would include the auditing of all MDAs, when the reason for the loan in the first place is to allow the Auditor Generals office to audit the MDAs.

The Chairman, Oke frowned at the fact that the office of the Auditor-General could neither access the $36.1 million loan nor the $1.5 million grant for three years.

He said that the condition of the loans and grants could lead to the breaking if the procurement laws as the Auditor Generals office has no proper agreement, no procurement plans, or budgetary provisions.

Meanwhile, the Committee while investigating payments made to Pre-shipment inspection Agents (PIAs) and Crude Ool/Non-Oil Monitoring and Evaluation Agents (MEAs) especially one by the name Colbalt International Services Limited, resolved to probe where over N7 billion disappeared to from the treasury account of the federal government.

The Chief Operating Officer of the company, Adegboyega Ogboye said only N4.2 billion has been paid to the company.

But the Committee presented documents from the Central Bank of Nigeria, and the Federal Ministry of Finance showing that a total of N11.3 billion has been paid to the company, leaving a variation of N7.1 billion unaccounted for.

The lawmakers insisted on the need to discover who the N7.1 billion was paid to and resolved to summon the Bank of Cobalt International Services Limited (Zenith Bank).

The bank is to forward to the committee all documents related to Cobalts payments. Similarly, Cobalt is to forward to the committee all bidding documents and contract awarded from the Ministry of Finance

The Committee regretted the fact that the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria have been paying out billions of Naira without appropriation from the National Assembly, adding that they will take up the issue with the two institutions.