The House Committee on Public Accounts on Wednesday commenced investigative hearing on the N1.195 billion extra-budgetary spending levels against three Federal ministries during the preparation towards Nigeria at 50 anniversary.
The allegation was contained in the 2015 Audit report submitted by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation (AGF) to the Lower Chamber for further legislative action.
Following the unsatisfactory explanation of Kingsley Chinda (PDP-Rivers) who presided over the session directed Sabiu Zakari, Permanent Secretary of Federal Ministry of Transportation to pay the sum of N3.935 million into government coffers within 48 hours.
The lawmaker who threatened that the Committee will not hesitate to hand over the Permanent Secretary over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) if he fails to comply, requested for evidence of the payment at the next sitting where a final decision will be taken.
Speaking earlier, Zakari who denied knowledge of the ruling of the Committee in June 2016, arguer that the officer who represented the Ministry at the investigative public hearing did not deliver comprehensive report on the Committee’s ruling.
He explained that the said sum was actually N1.095 billion as opposed to the N1.195 billion quoted by the Auditor General’s query.
He explained that the funds were disbursed to the staff to make arrangements for the Nigeria at 50 anniversary celebration in October, 2015.
“When certain projects come up, there may be need to approve money for the agencies, even though the money must have been provided for in the budget.
“The reason is to beat time lag and actualise the projects based on time lines, which was why the said amount was approved for the agencies to carry out their activities in the Nigeria at 50,” the Permanent Secretary noted.
In his remarks, Zaphaniah Jisalo (PDP-FCT), had moved that the Ministry of Transport (Aviation) be made to account for N1.195 billion allegedly given to staff to make supplies in a non-contractual arrangement.
On his part, Lam Adesina (APC-Oyo), request for the details of the N1 billion spent and unaccounted for by the Ministry.
He said the committee must be given further evidence that the said money was actually spent for the purpose mentioned by the Ministry in its earlier response to the query.