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Senate sustains graft charges against NIMASA

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The Senate Committee on Public Account has upheld the indictment report against the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, (NIMASA) by the Auditor General of the Federation (AuGF) for alleged payment of N1.6 billion for some unexecuted contracts.

The decision followed the agency’s failure to defend itself after several summons.

The panel chairman, Senator Mathew Urhoghide, stated yesterday that since NIMASA spurned the several invitations extended to it, the committee had no other option than to sustain the query.

The 2015 auditor general report, which indicted the parastatal, read in part: “A total sum of N8.6 million was paid to a company as contract/professional fees for store organisation audit and inventory management system vide 2 payment vouchers Nos. UBA/EP/12/00309 of 8/3/12 and UBA/EP/13/0267 of 21/3/13.

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“The contract entailed core store organisation and inventory management system aimed at efficient record-keeping, asset location etc, but a physical audit verification of the store showed that this job was not carried out as assets worth billions of naira could not be effectively located and accounted for, contrary to the purpose of the contract.

“The payment for this contract contravenes Financial Regulation 3104 (III) which guards against payments for jobs not executed.”

The inquiry added: “The Director General of NIMASA has been requested to take procedural disciplinary measures against all officers responsible for approval and payment for job not executed and furnishing evidence for verification.

“Recover and refund to treasury the sum of N8.6 million being irregular payment, as well as furnishing recovery particulars for verification.”

In another query, some officials were alleged to have diverted N101.4 million for the establishment of Maritime Institute in University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

It read: “NIMASA and University of Nigeria, Nsukka reached an agreement to establish a maritime institute at the latter. To this end, the university submitted N599 million as take-off grant but only the sum of N240 million was paid to the university vide P.V. No. UBA/EP/13/546 of 30/5/13.

“The audit inspection visit to the maritime institute at the university on August 16, 2015 revealed that the bursary unit of the university acknowledged only the sum of N138.5 million as release for the establishment of the Maritime Institute, Nsukka and not N240 million raised in the payment voucher. The difference of N101.4 million could not be accounted for by either the university or the agency.

“The Director General has been requested to identify the officers responsible for the diversion of the N101.4 million and take disciplinary action against them, furnishing evidence for verification.

“Recover and refund to treasury the aggregate sum of N101.4 million, furnishing recovery particulars for verification.”

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