November 27, 2019

Reps query ministry officials over Dubai trip, mobile phones scandal

Nigerians in Ukraine

Tordue Salem – Abuja

The House of Representatives on Wednesday quizzed top officials of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs over an alleged spurious training programme in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in 2014.

About N48million was allegedly earmarked for the training programme.

Besides, the officials of the ministry led by the Permanent Secretary, Mrs Didi Watson-Jack, were also queried on the purchase of smartphones at the cost of N14million without valid documents.

For the ministry’s alleged contravention of the extant financial regulations, the Chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts, Wole Oke, warned that the permanent secretary may serve a five-year prison term if found culpable in the alleged scam.

Oke, however, gave the permanent secretary a seven- day ultimatum within which to furnish the House with the relevant documents on the expenditures or be ready to refund the amounts to the Federal Government.

The audit query was issued to the ministry by the Auditor General of the Federation for the 2014 financial year.

According to the query, the ministry claimed to have spent N48million on a training programme for 23 staff of the ministry without any evidence that the workshop actually took place.

Oke said: “From the documents before the Committee there is no single receipt on the payments of airfares to and from Dubai, hotel accommodation and visas.

“We also discovered that the original company that made the submission for the Dubai trip was not the one the ministry made the payment to

“As a parliament, this is not acceptable because it is against the financial regulation in the public service and we want to see all the necessary documents backing up the expenditure and failure in which the money will be refunded immediately.”