Senate President Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, have been named in a fraud scheme that involves the sum of N10 billion.
According to a report by UDEME, an initiative of online newspaper, Premium Times, which is focused on Nigeria’s public procurement and budget implementation practices, the N10 billion was illegally withdrawn from the national treasury based on Adeosun’s approval before it was received and shared by Saraki and Dogara. President Muhammadu Buhari is reported to not have known or approved the payment.
Based on a request by the National Assembly, the sum was allegedly approved by Adeosun in collusion with the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris.
According to Premium Times, the N10 billion was released to Saraki and Dogara after they plotted and submitted a list of 82 contractors which they claimed the National Assembly was owing for contracts executed. Adeosun reportedly approved the payment of the money without doing further due diligence such as requesting award of contract letters, Certificates of No Objection issued by the Bureau of Public Procurement and job completion certificates issued by the National Assembly.
The report further noted that at least 44 of the 82 contractors presented for the fraudulent scheme were not registered on the National Database of Contractors, a database of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), which makes them ineligible to be awarded federal contracts. Further investigation also revealed that 17 of the 44 firms were not even registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), the body charged with the responsibility to regulate the formation and management of companies in Nigeria.
This budget, according to the sources, is usually the first-line charge on the federal treasury which already provided for the projects, making the allocation of the extra N10 billion unlawful.
The sources in the National Assembly described the approval of the N10 billion as slush funds for the leadership of the two legislative chambers and top civil servants at the management unit.
A source in the finance ministry challenged Adeosun to explain why the funds were first moved to the National Assembly instead of paying the contractors directly.
“It is a monumental fraud that they are now desperate to cover up,” the anonymous source said.
AGF explains allocation
When Accountant-General Idris was contacted about the report, he explained that the controversial payment was sourced from a N20 billion service-wide vote “provided for local contractors’ liabilities under the 2017 Appropriation for all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and institutions of Government.”
According to experts that spoke to Premium Times, despite the appropriation of the N20 billion for payments of local contractors, it was still illegal to pay those hired by the National Assembly from the funds.
The report questioned the decision of the finance ministry to give half of allocations made to pay local contractors to the National Assembly.
Illegal allocation for Saraki’s project
The report also revealed that N485 million was released for the construction of model junior secondary schools across Kwara Central senatorial district, a project conceived by Senate President Saraki.
While N450 million had been approved for the project in the 2017 appropriation law, a further N35 million was released for its execution, a violation of the law.
Saraki and Dogara have both declined to comment on the report which was published on Friday, April 20, 2018.
And people can’t afford just common gari to drink.