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Senate panel queries VON over contracts

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Osita Okechukwu

Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Matthew Urhoghide, has expressed dismay that Voice of Nigeria (VON) paid 79 per cent instead of 15 per cent mobilisation fee for contracts.

The contract, for construction of foundation and installation of studio transmitter link tower, was awarded to A&B Concepts Resources Ltd for N35,699,244:53k in 2013.

Ten queries were raised against VON, bordering on late submission of relevant documents, lack of respect for financial regulation, late submission of relevant documents for jobs, services and projects executed.

Eight of the queries were vacated after the defence put up by the organisation.

Apparently worried by the over mobilisation, the chairman of the committee said “no matter the nobility, not even at war time, even the president cannot procure jets without seeking permission from the National Assembly.”

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Director General of VON, Chief Osita Okechukwu, allegedly failed to defend the query asking the organisation to refund N348,836 68k being overpayment to the contractor, A&B Concepts Resources Ltd, in 2016. Hence the committee ordered the DG to impress it upon the contractor to refund the said amount.

The Auditor-General of the Federation, in his query, had alleged that N 79, 990,77.8.5 was awarded for supply, installation and development of electronic content management system without obtaining certificate of objection from Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP).

He stated that N35,990,727.5, being 45 per cent of contract sum, was paid through Voucher MC BO5C in November 2017 without any performance bond or certificate, contrary to the terms of agreement and final payment of N25,331,30.43, which was paid through voucher MC BO60 on December 24, 2017 without strong conviction certificate attached.

The Auditor General said VON contravened the rules and regulations in awarding various supply contracts without documents like award letters, job performance certificates, invoices, store receipt, vouchers and bill of quantities, which were not attached to the payment vouchers.

He said the violations would encourage misappropriation of government funds and revenue loss.
“Sanctions in line with national regulations will be invoked if the director- general does not account for the funds,” Urhoghide said.

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