By Davies Iheamnachor
The Amnesty office has denied the report that the Federal Government seized N26 billion belonging to the Presidential Amnesty Programme, clarifying that the money was mopped up as part of the government’s financial process.
PAP office said it was expecting FG to roll over the unspent N26bn balance of its 2020 budget to enable it quickly meet up with its outstanding obligations.
The Interim Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (retd) spoke in reaction to the report that the Niger Delta region was unsettled following the decision of the government to seize the programme’s N26bn under the guise of unspent budgetary provisions.
However, Dikio in a statement signed by his Special Adviser, Media, Nneotaobase Egbe, explained that the money was not seized by FG, maintaining that PAP was not singled out for such exercise as it was customary for unspent money across the ministries, parastatals and agencies to be returned to the government’s coffers in line with the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy.
Dikio noted that PAP office had earlier written the Accountant-General’s office on the need to roll over the money and later release same to PAP to enable the programme meet all outstanding obligations tied to the money in the budgetary year.
Dikio opined that since PAP was a special programme on national security, the programme should be considered for an exclusive rollover of its unspent budget stating that all the money had been tied to specific activities necessary to maintain the peace in the Niger Delta region .
PAP coordinator said: “In order to reduce the debts owed several contractors since 2014, a payment plan that was sequential was initiated starting with the oldest debt in consideration of vendors’ interest payments on loans secured from banks to execute their contracts. A total of 104 such debts based on our records of the level of job completion have been paid as of December 31, 2021.
“Other verified payments could not be made before December 31, 2021 because PAP’s funds for September/October allocation and November/December allocation were received on the 28th of December 2020 and 29th December 2020, respectively.
“In compliance with the Federal Government’s anti-corruption and extant financial regulations, our system was only able to disburse a portion of these funds before the Federal Government’s Treasury Single Account was automatically shut down.
“The Accountant-General of the Federation was promptly notified of the need to roll over these funds and in response to mandatory queries, the Minister of Finance has been notified on the need to release the funds to enable PAP to promptly meet its financial obligations to contractors handling training and empowerment contracts”.
Meanwhile, it was gathered that the development scuttled the payment of ex-militants’ allowances for January in line with Dikio’s promise that ex-agitators’ would receive their allowances on the 25th of each month, warranting ex-militants threatening to block the Mbiama axis of the East-West Road in protest.
But, Dikio enjoined the ex-agitators to go on with the action, adding that PAP was committed to resolving all the issues.