By Emman Ovuakporie
ABUJA—THE House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts, yesterday, queried Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr Bolaji Adebiyi, for information regarding N45.7 million cash advance made to two officers of the ministry in 2014 against the public service financial regulation.
The permanent secretary was originally billed to face the panel in respect of four different queries raised by Office of Auditor-General of the Federation, AuGF, in 2015.
He, however, deferred his response to the queries due to lack of preparedness, saying he was not aware there were queries for 2015.
Recalling its report before the committee, officials of the office of the AuGF had saidin 2014, N45.7million was granted to two officers as advances on their retirement benefits but were yet to be retired, even when such benefits were paid.
They said such were usually meant to be retired and a memo sent to the head of finance and account of the Ministry did not yield any response, prompting the AuGF to ask the permanent secretary to recover the said amount and return same to the treasury.
Asked if he had done that, the PermSec said the affected officers have retired the said amount and that the particulars of retirement were contained in the submitted response to the committee.
Adebiyi explained that the sum given was for retirement benefits of the two officers whose documents were not being processed on time, prompting the ministry to grant the advances.
Another query demanding the recovery of N300,000 cash advance made to another officer in the name of “special imprest,” also came to the fore with the panel frowning on its violation of financial regulation.
Asked if he was aware of the limit for cash advance to officers, the Perm Sec said it was N250,000, while what was given was N300,000.
His Director of Finance, however, tried to explain that “where there is a special imprest, the threshold can be crossed.”
Demand explanation over 2 missing vehicles
The committee also heard another query bordering on missing Prado Jeep and a pickup van said to have been taken away by one Paul Okule, a retired director in the Ministry.
Asked why the vehicles have not been recovered, the Perm Sec disclosed that officers sent to recover them realised that they were in bad condition, hence the ministry’s decision to auction them out to the retired director.
The committee, therefore, ruled that the said Paul Okule appears with the PermSec at the next adjourned date on February 26 with all necessary documents on the missing vehicles.