Says it could attract sack, jail sentence
By Christiana Ekpa
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the House of Representatives investigating the alleged mismanagement of the COVID-19 information funds from 2020 to 2021 by the Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government on Friday again uncovered several infractions in the presentations submitted before it by some health institutions across the country from the several billions of Naira allocated to each of them to fight the dreaded disease.
The Committee being Chaired by Rep Bamidele Salam worried by the level of the Infractions made it that the Infractions were so grievous that could land the accounting officers of the concerned Institutions into Correctional Centres or being sacked from work.
Consequently, the Committee rejected their presentations outrightly describing them as cooked up documents that would not stand and directed them to reappear with fresh submissions to be backed up with relevant documents.
Some of the Health Institutions 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.
For instance, Dr. Dauda Katagum, the Medical Director of Federal Medical Centre Azare, who received N949,233,268.72 made a presentation which the lawmakers discovered had the difference of N27 million which he claimed was trapped in the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
The Committee rejected the claim and directed him to back it with relevant documents failure which he would have to refund the amount.
Speaking on the development, the Chairman of the Committee, Rep Bamidele Salam said, “ apart from that, the TSA account is an account that warehouses all accounts. So there is no way of knowing which particular it is. So, if you have hundred million in your TSA account it is convenient for 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 how many years of Covid-19 intervention expenditure? Why didn’t you retain the sum of money”.
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 (BPP) to refund the sum of N8.6million to the federal government due to the market survey they did.
Also, a company, GMC International Ltd, 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.
In addition, the Medical Director of the Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Calabar, Cross River state, Dr Bassey Edet who also had great difficulty in talking to his earlier submission to the secretariat of the committee was to re-present his work in a date to be communicated.
The hospital also received the sum of N949,233,268.72.
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 the Covid-19 intervention after he failed to convince the committee that transparency, due process and value for money were the watchwords while expending on the project.
The duo of Dr. Usman Ahmadu Baba, the acting Chief Medical Director of Modibbo Adama University Teaching Hospital, Yola and the National Orthopedic Hospital Dala-Kano directed to re-appear before the committee to clear salient issues on their respective submissions.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the Committee said, “ Honourable colleagues, again this is another inconclusive interaction by the Modibbo Adama University Teaching Hospital, Yola. 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 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 you on a new date for your appearance”.
He warned other MDAs against delay tactics in their presentations before the Committee, insisting that It would go ahead with its assignment as directed by the leadership of the 10th House of Representatives.