COVID-19: Reps Committee uncovers more grievous infractions

The Public Accounts Committee of the House of Representatives investigating the alleged mismanagement of the COVID-19 funds from 2020 to 2021 by the Ministries, Departments, and Agencies of the Federal Government on Friday again uncovered several infractions in the presentations submitted before it by some health institutions across the country.

The Committee chaired by Bamidele Salam said the infractions were so grievous that they could earn accounting officers of concerned institutions jail or outright sacks.

Consequently, the Committee rejected their presentations, describing them as cooked up documents that would not stand and directed them to reappear with fresh submissions to be backed up with relevant documents.

Some of the health institutions are the Federal Medical Centre, Azare, Bauchi State; the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Calabar, Cross River State; the Modibbo Adama University Teaching Hospital, Yola formerly known as the Federal Medical Centre, Yola, Adamawa State; and the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Dala-Kano.

 For instance, Dr. Dauda Katagum, the Medical Director of Federal Medical Centre Azare, who received N949,233,268.72 made a presentation that the lawmakers discovered had a difference of N27 million, which he claimed was trapped in the Treasury Single Account (TSA).

 The Committee rejected the claim and directed him to back it with relevant documents, failing which he would have to refund the amount.

Speaking on the development, the Chairman of the Committee, Bamidele Salam said, “Apart from that, the TSA account is an account that warehouses all accounts. So there is no way of knowing which particular it is. So, if you have a hundred million in your TSA account, is it convenient for you to say something out of it was part of the Covid-19 money? The question is, why is the money still in your account after how many years of Covid-19 intervention expenditure? Why didn’t you return the sum of money?”

The CMD also failed to explain the definite timeline of the contract and other matters relating to the contract, including the order from the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) to refund the sum of N8.6 million to the federal government due to the market survey they did.

Also, a company, GMC International Ltd., which failed to execute the contract at the medical facility, is to be invited to appear before the committee, just as hospital management was directed to furnish the committee with full details about the transaction it undertook on the intervention.

In addition, the Medical Director of the Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Calabar, Cross River state, Dr Bassey Edet who also had great difficulty defending his earlier submission to the secretariat of the committee, was to re-present his work in a date to be communicated.

The hospital also received the sum of N949,233,268.72

Similarly, the Medical Director of the National Orthopedic Hospital, Dala-Kano, Dr. Nurudeen Isah was also asked to furnish the committee with all relevant documents relating to the Covid-19 intervention after he failed to convince the committee that transparency, due process and value for money were the watchwords while expending on the project.

The duo of Dr. Usman Ahmadu Baba, the acting Chief Medical Director of Modibbo Adama University Teaching Hospital, Yola and the National Orthopedic Hospital Dala-Kano directed to re-appear before the committee to clear salient issues on their respective submissions.

In his remarks, the Chairman of the Committee said, “Honourable colleagues, again this is another inconclusive interaction by the Modibbo Adama University Teaching Hospital, Yola. Accountant, it is actually not a funny matter. I can see you laughing and smiling. Some of these infractions can actually earn you a jail term. Apart from terminating your appointment or paying a fine, it can actually lead you to jail. It is not something to be smiling about or laughing about. There is nothing funny about it.

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“You have committed very grievous infractions in the administration of public funds. And that is not a joke. We will communicate you on a new date for your appearance”, 

He again warned other MDAs against delay tactics in their presentations before the Committee, insisting that it would go ahead with their assignments as directed by the leadership of the 10th House of Representatives.

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