COVID-19 Probe:  House Committee Expresses Displeasure over Document Submitted by Ministry of Industry on Alleged Mismanagement of N75bn

Juliet Akoje in Abuja

The House of Representative’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), yesterday, expressed displeasure over the insufficient and inadequate documents submitted before it by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investments on the alleged mismanagement of N75 billion allocated to it as COVID-19 Intervention funds by the federal government.

Chairman of PAC, Hon. Bamidele Salam (Osun-PDP), at the resumed hearing probing Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the federal government over the alleged massive mismanagement of COVID-19 intervention funds, in Abuja, said the submission of the ministry on the expenditure of the N75 billions “is a worthless piece of document which doesn’t say anything”.

The committee at its last sitting had ordered the ministry, its immediate past and the incumbent Permanent Secretaries to jointly refund the sum of N75 billion allocated to it as COVID-19 intervention funds after the refusal of officials of the ministry to appear before the committee to defend the expenditure.

The present Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Amb. Nura Abba Rimi, during his appearance before the committee yesterday, said he only assumed office at the ministry on January 21.

Rimi apologised for the failure of the ministry to appear before the committee three consecutive times to defend the expendables as requested.

However, a member of the committee, Hon. Bassey Akiba, raised a point of order against entertaining the ministry again after a decision had been taken over its matter that had not been set aside.

Akiba said, “Mr. Chairman, Honourable Colleagues, let us even look at the issue of whether or not we should listen to the ministry and that for me is very important. I am the mover of the motion that a refund should be made because for me it was a clear case of disregard for the committee and National Assembly that is why I moved that motion.

“Having given that ministry this number of times to appear and they failed to appear, it shows clearly that the ministry does not have anything to say about the expenditure of the money and that is why I moved that motion and it was duly seconded and the motion was passed by the committee. I am sure that if not because of the break that we had, the House would have considered the position of the committee.”

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