By Henry Umoru – Abuja
The Senate has discovered that nine assorted vehicles belonging to the Ministry of Health were taken away by some former officials as they were leaving the service of the ministry.
The upper chamber of the National Assembly (NASS) also uncovered how the officials of the Ministry mismanaged N559 million generated from sales of 681,487 units of International Certificate of vaccination (Yellow Card) to the public
The Senator Matthew Urhoghide, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Edo South led Senate Committee on Public Accounts is raising the alarm of how the Ministry spent such amount of money
The Committee is relying on the query raised by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation in the 2015 report and brought before it for probe and subsequent presentation to the Senate at Plenary.
The query read, “It was observed from the data gathered from the State Centres of the Port Health Services Unit of the Ministry that a total sum of N559 million was generated from the sales of 681,427 units of International Certificate of Vaccination (Yellow Cards) to the public between August, 2013 and March, 2015.
“However, the Ministry failed to remit the statutory 25% of the amount totalling N139,768,750.00 to the Consolidated.
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“A vehicle survey conducted by my officers revealed that 9 assorted motor vehicles belonging to the Federal Ministry of Health were taken away by some former officials of the Ministry when they left the service of the Ministry.
“Two vehicles were taken away by two Permanent Secretaries who are now serving in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Ministry of Women Affairs, respectively. The other 7 vehicles were taken away by some Directors of the Ministry who had since retired from service.
In another query raised against the Ministry, a level 12 officer was paid N74 million against the laid down procedure in the civil service.
The query read, “A whopping sum of N74.6 million was paid to a Grade Level 12 officer in the Ministry on 21st July 2014, as personal advance for the Public Awareness Campaign for International Travellers on diseases of International Public Health importance.
“It is worrisome that such a huge amount of public funds could be entrusted to a Grade Level 12 officer, whose entire terminal service benefits cannot even match the size of the liability.
“An attempt by the officer to retire the advance in January 2015 was queried by the Internal Auditor for lacking sufficient details of the disbursement of the money. Up to the time of writing this report in September 2016, this huge advance had not been properly retired.”
In his remarks, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Urhoghide said that series of letters written to the Ministry for their response to the allegations were ignored.
Not satisfied with the development, Senator Urhoghide then sustained the query and said that the Senate will have no option than to withhold the position of Auditor General of the Federation.