By Innocent Anaba
The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, has denied the allegation by the House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts, that the sum of N724 million was missing from the Service Wide Vote for 2004 to 2012.
The Commission insisted that it had only received the sum of N286,939,185 out of which the sum of N123,150,259 was returned to the treasury, leaving the commission with the sum of N123,788,926 as the actual amount received and expended by the commission for 2004-2012.
In a protest to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Aminu Tamuwal, Executive Secretary of the Commission, Prof. Bem Angwe, noted that the summons by the House Committee on Public Accounts, which he said was laced with threats, cast the integrity of the Commission in bad light, making it look as an irresponsible and corrupt agency.
Angwe said: “I wish, on behalf of the management and staff of the NHRC, to draw the attention of the Speaker to the letter of invitation dated June 17, 2014 requesting that the Commission appear before the House Committee on Public Accounts on the following: the expenditure made through the Service Wide Vote during the years 2004-2012, Auditor-General’s report for the year ended December 31, 2011.
“The date fixed for the appearance of the Commission before the Committee coincided with the meeting of representatives of National Human Rights Institutions in West Africa and ECOWAS officials which the NHRC of Nigeria hosted in Abuja, which I presided over as the Chairman. In view of this development, the Commission sought the permission of the Committee to have senior officials of the Commission to appear before it in place of the Executive Secretary.
“Incidentally, the team was not given audience because of my absence despite all the verbal representations made by the team and explanations made in the letter to the Committee which even contained an attachment of all the documents relating to the nature of the international assignment I was conducting on behalf of the country. In fact, the Chairman of the Committee further directed the team to inform me to appear in person on June 30.
“The directives were duly relayed to me, but as I was preparing to appear before the Committee on Monday, my attention was drawn to the damning headlines in various national dailies with a caption “Reps Summons NHRC Scribe Over Missing N724m.” The newspapers attributed the story to Mr Solomon Olamilekan the Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts. I did appear on Monday, June 30, but the Committee did not sit, thus I had no opportunity of requesting that the misleading story be corrected.
“With all sense of modesty in the area of demonstrating high level of accountability, the NHRC is one of the institutions that deserves commendation by the National Assembly because in year, 2008, for instance when the sum of N123,150,259.00 was sent to the Commission from the Service Wide Vote for payment of severance package for permanent Commissioners, the Commission promptly returned the funds to the national treasury as no such permanent Commissioners existed in the Commission.”