Senate orders FRC ex-boss to refund N94m, okays Nababa as NCS CG
Refers Salamatu Suleiman’s nomination for NHRC chairmanship
The Senate Committee on Public Accounts has ordered former Executive Secretary of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC), Jim Obazee, to refund N94 million to the Federation Account.
According to the panel, the sum included N66 million he allegedly approved for a two-year rent for a property that the organisation never occupied and another N28 million reportedly siphoned via 64 vouchers .
The committee chairman, Senator Mathew Urhoghide, who gave the order during an investigation into two audit queries, broke down the N66 million to include N42 million paid for the contentious rent and N23.4 million as legal fee under Obazee’s watch. The first query read in part: “It was observed that, on 21/11/16, the sum of N42 million was paid as rent to Japaul Oil and Maritime Services for an office space at Japaul Building. N23.4 million was paid to Sola Oluseyi & Co as legal and agency fee for the office space, making a total of N66 million for two years ending 1/1/2019.
“The Council is yet to move into the building, 20 months running with four months to its expiration. This anomaly was due to the failure of the Executive Secretary to exercise due diligence in the application of public funds by ensuring that value is received for money expended.” But FRC, in its written response, said: “Upon the acquisition of the office accommodation at the Japaul House, there was need to give the property a face-lift, including partitioning befitting of an office. However, there was change of Executive Secretary in 2017, which slowed the process of award of contract. Secondly, the landlord was not willing to renew the tenancy agreement after the expiration of the current agreement.
“The Council is taking steps to utilise the building and secure a further lease from the landlord.”
The second alleged: “During the audit, it was observed that 64 payment vouchers for the sum of N28,765,842.11 was raised and paid without the internal audit stamps and dates, in contravention of the provisions of extant laws and regulations.
“This infraction was due to the failure of the Executive Secretary to strictly comply with the provisions of law and laid down procedures aimed at the strengthening the internal control system in government agencies. Payments arising from vouchers not pre-audited cannot be accepted as judicious charge against public funds.”
BESIDES, the upper legislative chamber, yesterday, confirmed the appointment of Haliru Nababa as Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS).
The confirmation at plenary followed the consideration and adoption of the report of the Senate Committee on Interior, chaired by Senator Kashim Shettima (APC: Borneo Central).
President Muhammadu Buhari had, in a letter dated February 23, 2021, asked the Senate to confirm the nominee. The Red Chamber also referred the Nigerian leader’s request seeking to confirm the nomination of Salamatu Suleiman as Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
Buhari also sought confirmation for Joseph Onyemaechi, Mohammed Abubakar, Timi Asiwaju, Sunny Daniel, Idayat Omolara Hassan, Beatrice Jeddy Agba, Umar Salisu, Dafe Adesida, Ahmad Fingilla, Kemi Okeyonda, Femi Okeowo, Agabaidu Jideani, Nella Rabana, Azubuike Nwakwenta, Jamila Isah and Prof. Anthony Ojukwu as members of the commission.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, referred the request to the Committees on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters following the adoption of a motion for referral moved by the Senate Leader, Abdullahi Abubakar and seconded by the Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe. The committees were given two weeks to report back.
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