New Telegraph

COVID-19: Reps Orders Federal Fire Service To Refund N1.48bn

…Gives AuGF, health ministry, and others one week to answer queries

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the House of Representatives has ordered the Federal Fire Service (FFS) to refund N1.484 billion within seven days to the federal government for the unaccounted intervention funds it received for the COVID-19 epidemic.

The committee led by Hon. Bamidele Salam issued the directive when the FFS, for the umpteenth time failed to honour its invitation to appear and explain how it expended the funds.

Deputy Chairman of the committee, Hon. Jeremiah Umar, had moved a motion for the refund of the amount saying “So many other agencies have appeared before this committee, and the investigation is ongoing. I don’t see any reason why the Fire Service will ignore a committee like this”.

The lawmaker stated that since the Service could not appear to explain what the money was spent for, it should be refunded to the coffers of the federation.

While ruling on the motion, Hon Salam stressed that the Fire Service must make the refund of the sum of N1.484 billion it collected as a COVID-19 intervention fund in 2020/2021, and submit evidence of the refund within seven days while the other affected agencies would be invited once for the last chance to make an appearance

Similarly, the committee issued fresh invitations to other defaulting ministries departments, and agencies (MDAs) of the federal government to appear and explain various queries standing against them from the office of the Auditor General of the Federation on billions of naira allocated to them during COVID-19 as intervention funds

The affected MDAs are the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security-N50. 5 billion, the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation- N33 billion, the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, through the National Centre for Women Development-N625 million, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)-N25 billion, and the Federal Ministry of Health- N10 billion.

While issuing the orders, the chairman of the committee, Hon Bamidele Salam lamented that the Federal Fire Service had snubbed the committee’s summons three different times in a row, while the other affected MDAs did the same twice each, saying that the latter group has within one week to appear, or face sanctions.

He warned that “A public officer who fails to respond to the Auditor-General’s query satisfactorily within 21 days for failure to collect government revenue due shall be surcharged and be transferred to another schedule.

“Where an officer fails to give a satisfactory reply to an audit query within 7 days for his failure to account for government revenue, such officer shall be surcharged for the full amount involved and such officers handed over to either the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC)”

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