Friday, February 23, 2024

Reps uncover infractions in MDAs’ presentations on COVID-19 funds

BY FESTUS OKOROMADU

The House of Representatives Public Accounts Committee probing alleged misappropriation of COVID-19 intervention funds by Ministries Departments and Agencies has uncovered several irregularities in the presentations made by some health institutions across the country.

This is as the committee chaired by the member representing Ede North/Ede North/Egbedore/Ejigbo Federal Constituency, Osun State, Bamidele Salam, said some of the alleged infractions are capable of earning the accounting officers jail terms in the nation’s correctional centers or costing them their jobs.

Following these findings, therefore, the committee rejected their presentations, describing them as cooked up even as it directed them to reappear with relevant documents to substantiate their claims.

Some of the Health Institutions concerned are the Federal Medical Centre, Azare, Bauchi State; Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Calabar, Cross River State; Modibbo Adama University Teaching Hospital, Yola, formerly known as Federal Medical Centre, Yola, Adamawa State; and the National Orthopedic Hospital, Dala-Kano, Kano State.

Findings by the committee revealed that the Medical Director of the Federal Medical Centre, Azare, who got N949.23m, made a presentation that had a shortfall of N27m, claiming that the said amount was trapped in the Treasury Single Account.

Rejecting his submission, the Bamidele-led committee urged him to either come up with relevant documents to back up his claim or refund the N27m unfailingly.

Speaking on the development in a statement released on Sunday, Bamidele said, TSA houses all accounts, adding that there is no way of knowing which particular one it is.

“So, if you have N100m in your TSA, is it convenient to say something out of it was part of the COVID-19 money? The question is, why is the money still in your account after many years of COVID-19 intervention expenditure?” he asked.

The CMD also failed to explain the definite timeline of the contract and other matters relating to the contract including the order from the Bureau of Public Procurement to refund the sum of N8.6m to the Federal Government due to the market survey it did.

According to the statement, a company, GMC International Limiter, which failed to execute the contract at the medical facility, is to be invited to appear before the committee just as the hospital management was directed to furnish the committee with the full details about the transaction it undertook on the intervention project.

Similarly, the Medical Director of the Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Dr. Bassey Edet is set to make a fresh presentation at a date yet to be communicated to him.

The hospital also got the sum of N949.23m for intervention in the global health pandemic.

Similarly, the Medical Director of National Orthopedic Hospital Dala-Kano, Dr. Nurudeen Isah was also asked to furnish the committee with all relevant documents relating to how he managed the funds allocated to the hospital after failing to convince the committee of his expenditure.

The same applied to the Modibbo Adama University Teaching Hospital, Yola.

Addressing members of the committee, Salam said, “Honourable colleagues, again this is another inconclusive interaction by the Modibbo Adama University Teaching Hospital, Yola. Mr. Accountant, it is actually not a funny matter. I can see you laughing and smiling. Some of these infractions can actually earn you a jail term. Apart from terminating your appointment or paying a fine, it can actually lead you to jail. It is not something to be smiling or laughing about. There is nothing funny about it.

“You have committed very grievous infractions in the administration of public funds. And that is not a joking matter. We will communicate with you on a new date for your appearance.”

For the umpteenth time, the lawmaker cautioned other MDAs not to employ delay tactics in making their presentations before the Committee even as he vowed that the assignment would go on unhindered as directed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas.

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