COVID-19 Probe: House Queries FERMA over Alleged Mismanagement of N60bn

Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The House of Representatives yesterday queried the officials of the COVID-19 Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) on the utilisation of the over N60 billion allocated to the agency during the COVID-19 epidemic.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) investigating the alleged mismanagement of COVID-19 intervention funds from 2020 to 2021, expressed disappointment over the way the management of the agency led by its Managing Director, Dr Chukwuemeka Agbasi, appeared before the committee with a large delegation.

The Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Bamidele Salam, lamented that the agency which was rescheduled to reappear  before the committee could not produce enough copies of the requested documents.

Instead of producing about 60 copies to be distributed to the members, it tendered only 11 copies.

The agency also  made its submission in the morning of the same Monday as against last Friday the deadline for submission of documents

The agency claimed that a total of 192 projects were carried out across the country which members took turns to debunk that such  never existed in their constituencies.

A member of the committee and a lawmaker from Osun, Hon. Adewale Mauruff, expressed worry when he informed the committee that a particular project which was contracted had its fund moved into direct labour without satisfactory explanation.

He added that at no time was any survey done to ascertain the need to maintain that particular section as mentioned by FERMA.

Another area which was not believed by the committee was the assertion by FERMA that it had about N8.9 million still outstanding in their coffers just as a project administration fee of N9 billion was frowned upon.

On his part, the Deputy Chairman of  the committee, Hon. Jeremiah Umaru, said  that the Wamba-Akwanga road, which is in his constituency had been in a state of disrepair for several years, and expressed surprise to hear Agbasi mentioning it as part of the road projects given a facelift  during the Covid-19.

Ruling on the matter, the chairman announced that the committee would take another look  into the books of the agency and requested for more specific documents, vouchers, pictorial evidence of all the projects.

In a unanimous conclusion, the committee resolved  to physically verify the projects as presented by FERMA.

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