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ABU teaching hospital ignores Reps’ summons over fraud allegations

By Otei Oham, Abuja   |   11 October 2016   |   4:13 am

For the second time in three days, authorities of Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), Zaria again shunned the invitation of the House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts to respond to allegations of N11.990 million fraud and other charges.

The allegations were brought to the lawmakers by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation (AGF).

According to the petition sent by the AGF to the representatives, ABUTH had on March 2012 awarded a contract for the supply and installation of cardiothoracic equipment to the hospital at the stated sum. But despite that the contractor had been fully mobilised for the job, the AGF accused the hospital of discrepancies in the transaction.

It further queried the Federal Capital Territory Health Management Board and Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) for diversion and misappropriation of various sums of money.

The AGF specifically accused the NSIA of failing to compel its contractors to remit taxes to the Federal Government, arguing that jobs done outside the country should not attract taxes to the Nigerian government.

The representatives are seeking the view of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) on their position.

Prof. Lawal Khalid is the Chief Medical Director of ABUTH while Dr. Uche Orji is the Managing Director of NSIA, which manages the country’s Sovereign Wealth Fund.

The three organisations above were to appear before the committee last Friday but were given another chance to turn up yesterday, which they also failed, alongside Ministries of Defence, Army and Navy, whose appearances were scheduled for yesterday.

Piqued by the refusal of the organisations to honour the call, Chairman of the committee, Kingsley Chinda, said agencies that have failed to heed the committee’s invitation twice have one more chance to appear. He added that they may eventually be compelled to come before the committee.

He said Section 81 (1) (c) of the 1999 constitution empowers the parliament to compel appearances of any agency and official of government on matters bordering on the corporate existence of the nation.

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