Senate gives ministry 48 hours ultimatum to account for N13.9m service votes

The Senate on Tuesday gave the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy a 48-hour ultimatum to account for the N13.9 billion received from service-wide votes from 2017 to 2021.

The Senate Committee on Public Accounts issued an ultimatum to the ministry’s permanent secretary, William Alo, after he failed to provide documentation on how the money was spent by the ministry during the time period under consideration.

The chairman of the committee, Mathew Urhoghide, and other members had during the meeting questioned the permanent secretary on how the funds generated from the service-wide votes were spent.

The panel was angry with the permanent secretary and the ministry’s director of finance and administration for pleading for more time to review the supporting documentation.

The chairman, who was surprised at the two men’s request which came four months after the investigation into the ministry’s use of the funds began, turned it down.

Uroghide said: “Series of letters have been written to your ministry since September last year for required explanations on how the service-wide votes were expended without prompt response, only for you to come here today along with the DFA of the ministry to beg for more time which would not be granted beyond Thursday this week because the committee must submit report to the Senate on how your ministry and many of the other MDAs are running away from explanations on spendings made from the service-wide votes.

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“What the committee and by extension , the Senate wants from your ministry are evidence of approval of the funds given, evidence of contracts awarded and executed from the funds.

“Accountability is key as far as public account or fund is concerned, the very purpose for which this committee was constitutionally created.

“Our findings on how the various MDAs spent the service-wide votes given to them showed that accountability and transparency were not adhered to, which, to us, is unacceptable.

“The consequence of this is that your ministry and other MDAs found wanting would be made to cough out whatever amount mismanaged by way of returning them to the government coffers.”

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