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N30.9 bn withdrawal: Transport ministry debunks Senate committee’s allegations

Posted by By Sun News Publishing on 2008/06/30 | Views: 2550 |

N30.9 bn withdrawal: Transport ministry debunks Senate committee’s allegations


The Federal Ministry of Transportation at the weekend debunked allegations by the Senate Ad-Hoc Committee probing the transportation sector that the sum of N30.9 billion was withdrawn and disbursed by the ministry in December 2007.

The Federal Ministry of Transportation at the weekend debunked allegations by the Senate Ad-Hoc Committee probing the transportation sector that the sum of N30.9 billion was withdrawn and disbursed by the ministry in December 2007.

A member of the committee, Senator Patricia Akwashiki, had at the committee hearing on Thursday, claimed that the ministry withdrew and released the funds in an apparent bid to beat the end of the year deadline.

Akwashiki had claimed that the sum of N30.9 billion was expended between December 26 and 31, 2007. She also claimed that the sum was paid out to nine projects/contractors during those six days.
But in a statement signed by the Permanent Secretary Ammuna Lawan Ali, the ministry explained that what the Transport Minister, Mrs Diezani Allison Madueke told the committee was that the purported sum of N30.9 billion could not have been withdrawn in the manner it was presented by the committee.

According to the permanent secretary, the document quoted by Akwashiki last Thursday contained a summary of nine mandates issued by the Accountant General of the Federation requesting the Central Bank of Nigeria to release moneys and honour cheques for 570 named contractors with amounts against each of the contractors.

According to the PS, “it is pertinent to explain for clarity that mandates issued by the Accountant General of the Federation are not withdrawal slips, or debits on bank statements nor are they evidence of monies withdrawn from the account of the Federal Ministry of Transportation with the Central Bank of Nigeria. Rather, they are statements of approved expenditure issued by the Accountant-General of the Federation against which monies are being credited for payment to the mandated contractors. It should be emphasized that the Central Bank of Nigeria by regulation does not make cash payments to the Federal Ministry of Transportation or any MDA for that matter.”

He noted that his ministry merely acted in accordance with a circular dated 29th October 2007 (Ref No OAGF/CAD/026/Vol II/411) issued by the Accountant-General of the Federation.
The statement said further: “The circular stated in paragraph 6 under the title Treatment of Capital Accounts that ‘In accordance with the provisions of the Appropriation and Supplementary Act, 2007, any amount not cash-backed before 28th December, 2007 shall automatically lapse.

However, all monies in the Central Capital Account (CCA) at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as at 28th December 2007 could be accessed by the respective Ministries and Parastatals up to 31st March 2008.
After that date, all unspent balances of capital allocations in the CCA shall lapse and shall be transferred to CRF. It should be noted that the Due Process Certificates obtained before 28th December, 2007 shall be valid to access any money in the Central Capital Account (CCA) up to 31st March, 2008.’

It therefore follows from the above, that any payments made at the material times in 2007 and early 2008 up to March 31st were in line with the said circular and the Ministry of Transportation did not flout the Presidential directive on unspent funds as wrongly alleged. It must also be added that during the initial submissions made to the committee, the FMT showed that it returned the sum of over N5.6 billion at the expiration of the 31st †March 2008, which was paid back to the Treasury in compliance with the Presidential directives and the said circular.

Furthermore the allegation of the Distinguished Committee at the hearing on the 26th of June, that amounts were withdrawn or cheques drawn on a public holiday (26th December 2007) was gravely in error. Rather, the dates on the document being quoted were the dates on the mandate from the Accountant-Generalís office. The mandates dated 26th December 2007 had the sums of N192,949,299.98; N81,374,119.34; N1,557,792,947.81 which were the total sums of monies to be paid to 59 nos., 107 nos. and 194 nos. contractors respectively over the months of January, February, and March. These details are easily verifiable from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.

ìEqually verifiable is the fact that FMT did not have N30.9 billion in the said CBN account in December 2007. On the contrary, only the sum of N17.3 billion was available in the account, out of which the total number of cheques issued in December 2007 amounted to N5.8 billion Naira. These cheques were based on earlier mandates and were completely unrelated to those paid out based on the aforementioned 30.9Billion Naira.

While assuring the Senate committee probing the transport sector of its total cooperation, the ministry asserted that it was not involved in any dishonest or illegal financal transactions as alleged by the committee.

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