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Reps seek release of N1.017b Sokoto Basin’s fund


SPEAKER-DOGARAS-FIRST-PLENARY-SESSIONTHE ad-hoc committee tasked by the House of Representatives to investigate the withdrawal of funds from the Sokoto Rima River Basin Development Authority has directed the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) to release the N1.017 billion meant for settling of outstanding liabilities incurred by the Authority, but withheld on the orders of the former Accountant General.

Specifically, the ad-hoc panel headed by Evelyn Omavowan Oboro (PDP, Delta) discovered that the request for the intervention fund was made by the River Basin following the approval by former President Goodluck Jonathan on 4th March, 2015.

The panel found out that former President Jonathan had in a letter signed by his Senior Special Assistant (Admin.), Mr. Matt Aikhionbare, directed that the money be released to enable the River Basin meet its outstanding commitments to contractors with their list attached – having been informed by the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, via a letter with reference number CME-HMF/FMF/2015/18 and dated 3rd March, 2015.

“However, the N1,017 billion released to the Basin through Zenith Bank was on April 28, 2015 ordered to be put on hold with a view to returning same to the federation account at the instance of the then Accountant General of Federation, Mr. Jonah Otunla.”

The Sokoto River Basin Authority in a letter with reference number SR/ADM/28/112 to the ad-hoc committee and dated, 6/11/2015 told the committee that, “before the reversal order was conveyed to it via its banker, Zenith Bank Plc in Sokoto, it had already verified and commenced payment of liabilities to the tune of N143,001,479.20 million for the settlement of its outstanding liabilities, a purpose for which the fund was meant.

“The payment of N143,001,479.20 million out of the N1,017,669,731.37 billion left the balance of N874,085,850.24 million as amount retrieved back to the federation account based on the directive by the AGF.”

A letter by the OAGF dated Nov 9th, 2015 and addressed to the House ad-hoc committee on the withdrawal of the said funds from the account of Sokoto Rims River Basin Development Authority, acknowledged an appeal by the River Basin Authority to the Minister of State for Finance, wherein the authorities requested for funds for the payment of outstanding liabilities arising from the non-release of federal budget in the sum of 1,017,669,731.37 and was graciously approved by the President.

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