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Ministry officials to refund N718m for improperly awarded contracts

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A Senate panel has revealed how the Ministry of Petroleum Resources paid N718 million through its tenders board to 11 corporate organisations for different services rendered without documents.

The discovery was as a result of the 2015 Auditor General Report submitted to the Senate Committee on Public Account chaired by Senator Matthew Urhoghide.

The Senate panel has recommended a refund of N718.9 million to the Federation Account by the government officials involved in the award of the contracts.

The panel’s findings showed that the contract was awarded in 2014 when the former Head of Service, Danladi Kifasi, was the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Petroleum Resources.

Companies listed to have benefited from the consultancies are Amho Nigeria Ltd (Contract for consultancy service on critical stakeholders workshop on Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) Policy Initiative at cost of N97.9million, Mimo Industrial Ltd (Contract for Consultancy Service on Project management for Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) Policy Framework Development) at cost of N99.4 million, Peds Global Ventures (Contract for consultancy service on surveillance and monitoring of environmental restoration) at cost of N79.4 million, Crown-Tech Services Ltd ( Contract for consultancy service on capacity building for engineers to acquire tools surveillance and monitoring of environmental restoration) at cost of N82.2 million, DayLight Engeering Nigeria Ltd, (Contract for consultancy service on survey of oil and gas production and utilization in Nigeria) at cost of N48.1 million and Redbrick Consultants Ltd (Course fees oil and gas) at contract sum of N26.6 million.

It also revealed that about five consultancy contracts were awarded on July 14, 2014 while project on training was given out on October 17, 2014 and the payment was made in the 2015 budget.

The Auditor General of the Federation, in its report, stated that no further documents regarding payments were produced despite repeated request, adding the ministry failed to produce documents explaining and supporting the genuineness of the payments.

The query read, “An expenditure entry to N718.9 million was made in the cashbook as payment to 11 corporate bodies for different services rendered.

“Surprisingly, no further documents regarding this payment were produced for audit review despite repeated request, contrary to Financial Regulation 110 which states that ‘Auditor-General or his representative shall at all reasonable times have free access to books of accounts files, safes, security documents and other records and information relating to the account of all federal ministries /extra-ministerial offices and other arms of government or units.’

“Expenditure of this magnitude without documents explaining and supporting the genuineness of these payments cannot be accepted as legitimate charges against public funds.

“The permanent secretary has been requested to produce all documents recover and pay to treasury the sum of N718.9 million being expenditure un-accounted for and furnish recovery particulars for verification. “

The Ministry of Petroleum in its written submission presented by the Permanent Secretary, Bitrus Bako Nabasu, however said, “Relevant documents were attached to facilitate raising of payment vouchers and the total amount paid to contractors was N494.1 million.”

But the Chairman of the committee, Senator Urhoghide, and representative of Auditor General of the Federation, Eyitayo Agesin, said that documents attached to the vouchers were not enough to justify payment expenditure of that magnitude.

Meanwhile, the Senate Panel on Public Account has sustained a query of mismanagement of about N20 million against the Federal Ministry of Finance.

The lawmakers decided to sustain the query after the ministry ignored series of invitations extended to it by the Auditor General of the Federation with no response.

The chairman of the committee wondered how the ministry could be avoiding invitations to give account on the money spent, adding that the committee had sent invitations to the ministry on the issue with no response.

He said the committee had no other option than to sustain the Auditor General query against the ministry.

The query read, “A contract worth N2,477,900.00 was awarded by the ministry. It was observed that the contractor submitted a quotation before the invitation to bid for the contract was approved. This is contrary to the contract process when a bidding invitation is first sent to the contractor before the quotation. Also, the contractor’s tax clearance certificate was not provided by the contractor.

“The permanent secretary has been requested to explain these lapses.

“A sum of N2,768,760.54 which is equivalent of $13,919.00 was overpaid as estacode allowances to some staff of the ministry on foreign tours. This overpayment was done as a result of transit days which were included in their estacode allowances.

“However, this is contrary to Sections 130106 – 130108 of the Public Service Rules which stipulates that such allowances are granted to enable staff pay for lodging and feeding expenses during official hours duly approved by the approving authority.

“The permanent secretary has been requested to compel all the staff involved in the irregularity to refund the excess estacode allowances to the sub-treasury and forward the receipt to my office for confirmation.

“A total amount of N16,858,800.00 cash advances granted to some staff of the ministry between October and December, 2015 were not retired, contrary to Financial Regulation 420.

“The permanent secretary has been asked to compel the affected staff to retire the cash advances without further delay or deduct the amounts from the involved staff’s salary en-bloc and furnish my office with the retirement or deduction particulars for verification.”

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I sold about N70,000 bread daily to bandits when Kaduna students were abducted – Baker

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Hassan Magaji, a baker in the Galadimawa area of Kaduna State, has confessed to supplying bread to bandits.

Magagi, who was recently arrested by the Intelligence Response Team of the Inspector-General of Police, said he sold bread worth N70,000 to the bandits during the time that some university students were abducted.

It is not clear if he was referring to students of Greenfield University, Kaduna, who spent over a month in captivity.

“I observed that whenever they kidnapped many people, like during the kidnap of those university students, the quantity of bread that they bought increased. During that period I delivered up to N70,000 worth of bread everyday until recently when it dropped to N50,000 again.”

“I have not benefitted much except that I married a new wife and I was able to save money to take care of two wives. To stop banditry, government should recruit more security men. We prefer police because they know the job.”

Bandits have been terrorising residents of Kaduna and its environs.

On Saturday, angry residents blocked the ever-busy Abuja-Kaduna highway to protest incessant attacks.

Despite repeated assurances from government, armed gangs have been making life a hell for people.

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Aviation

Rains: NiMet warns of severe turbulence, flight cancellations

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The Director-General, Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NiMet), Prof. Mansur Matazu, has said airlines will encounter severe turbulence, flight delays and cancellations during rainfall.
He therefore called on pilots and airline managements to adhere to the weather forecast as the likely severe turbulence could cause discomfort, injury to passengers, instability and even loss of control for small aircraft.
Matazu was quoted in a statement on Friday as saying, “Heavy rains could also lead to skidding of aeroplanes due to surface wetness and impaired horizontal visibility.
“Thunderstorms could also lead to accidents, incidents, flight delays, flight cancellation, death, damage among others.
“Windshear could lead to accidents, incidents, aircraft nosedive, discomfort, aircraft lost control and death.”
The NiMet boss urged airline operators to take weather forecast seriously, stating the turbulence usually would cause poor visibility.
He also called on passengers to be patient with the airlines as flight delays, flight cancellations and flight diversion will be experienced within this period.

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Business

Navy arrests 10 vandals with smuggled 210,000 litres of diesel

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Operatives of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Beecroft have arrested 10 suspected vandals with 210,000 litre of stolen diesel.
The suspects were alleged to have attempted to smuggle the products concealed in water tanks to neighbouring Benin Republic through a wooden boat when they were intercepted around the Lagos anchorage.
A statement released on Friday by Base Information Officer, Sub-Lieutenant Veronica Effiong, said the suspects with the seized products had been handed over to the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, after preliminary investigations.
She said, “The vandals and seized products were on Tuesday, June 15, handed over to the Lagos Command of the NSCDC for further investigation and prosecution.
“The Commander NNS BEECROFT Commodore Bashir Mohammed reiterated the NNS BEECROFT`s commitment to the protection of critical national infrastructure and the eradication of all illegal activities in its area of responsibility in line with the Chief of the Naval Staff`s mission statement and strategic directive of 2021-5.
“As partners for a safe maritime environment, members of the public especially our host communities are enjoined to kindly furnish the base with credible information to assist in curbing the activities of criminal elements and economic saboteurs.”

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