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Senate threatens DG Budget Office with arrest for disrespect

By HENRY UMORU & INALEGWU SHAIBU

…Sacks task team on Pension Reform. Summons Amma Pepple. Orders Oronsanye, Afolabi, Sali on hand over notes.
ABUJA—THE Senate, Tuesday, warned that it will order the immediate arrest of Director-General of the Budget Office, Mr. Bright Okogu, for shunning the invitation of the panel probing the administration of Pension funds.

Also, as part of moves to get to the roots of the scandal rocking the Pension Fund administration, the Senate yesterday ordered former Heads of Service, Mr. Steve Oronsaye, Prof. Oladapo Afolabi and the current Head of Service, Isa Bello Sali, to submit their hand over notes.

Giving the order yesterday at the public hearing, Chairman of the panel, Senator Aloysious Etuk, said should Okogu fail to honour the panel’s invitation today, the Senate will not hesitate to issue warrant of arrest on him.

He said: “The Senate has power to invite any individual or corporate institution in any part of the country to facilitate its function. We will not hesitate to order his arrest if he fails to come to the hearing today. Clerk of the committee, please, communicate this to him.”

Also yesterday, the Senate, after the public hearing, summoned the former Head of Service and Minister of Housing, Ms Amma Pepple, to appear before it today, just as it also sacked the Task Team set up on Pension reform by the Head of Service.

It added that it should ceased to operate until after the conclusion of the on-going probe of the management of the pension scheme at the National Assembly.

The panel also directed the Accountant-General to open an account where all the recovered stolen pension money would be lodged for safe-keeping, pending the outcome of the investigative hearing.

According to Senator Etuk, those managing the Police Pension funds should appear before the committee today to explain the whereabouts of the N21 billion, being parts of the fund supposedly kept at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

He said there was need to shed light on this money because of the information available to the committee that the N28 billion police pension may have found its way into an unnamed account.

Sali, in his testimony before the panel, said the Task Team was able to unearthen the syndicate comprising six civil servants that allegedly fleeced pensioners N24 billion, adding that it was also discovered that instead of 141,000 pensioners on payroll, there were 70,000 genuine pensioners.

In his testimony before the panel, Oronsaye explained that the Account Department of the Pension Office in the Head of Service Office was where the collusion and corruption was perfected, adding, “the data was corrupted there. We then decided that we need a new data. The old data showed that we had 141,000 on pay roll but when they (the Task Team) went out, they brought 71,000”.


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