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Reps raise alarm over disputed N16trn service wide votes

The committee said yesterday that the votes which is a contingency sum administered by the president through the finance ministry has gulped N16 trillion, but…

The committee said yesterday that the votes which is a contingency sum administered by the president through the finance ministry has gulped N16 trillion, but there was no evidence for the expenses incurred between 2004 and 2013.
Chairman of the committee Adeola Solomon Olamilekan (APC, Lagos) said the committee came to this conclusion after going through loads of documents provided by the Budget Office.
The committee also raised concern over the expenditure of about N5.1 billion said to have been spent on unbudgeted expenses including by the Presidential Advisory Committee (PAC) led by General T. Y. Danjuma in 2010.
A breakdown of the amount showed that PAC alone gulped the sum of N1.28 billion while other unbudgeted expenses were put at N3.9 billion.
The committee queried other expenses under the service  wide votes to include N1 billion expended by the Independent National Electoral ommission (INEC) on printing of ballot papers by a South African firm; N5.7 billion released to the National Hajj Commission (NAHCOM); N65 million spent by the Minister of Justice on the ministry’s participation at the 3rd Conference of State Parties to the United Nations and 5 per cent Redemption Fund meant for federal government’s workers’ pension.
Olamilekan said the SWV was used to perpetrate fraud, saying it was a “budget within budget run by the Budget Office,” which usually records a 100 per cent performance by year end.
He said between 2010 and 2011 alone, the Auditor-General of the Federation had issued eight queries to the Budget Office on the SWV to which no satisfactory answers were provided.
He said information available to the committee revealed that N700 million of the presidential committee’s money was said to have been spent on reservation of hotels.
Olamilekan ruled that the committee would summon the management of Transcorp Hilton, which was said to have benefited from the transaction to testify before it.
However, Director General of the Budget Office, Bright Okogu, responded that all the amounts mentioned were not spent by his office. He said he was only instructed to release sums to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the government.
He said the Service wide votes was “basically any expenditure not anticipated at the time the budget was made,” adding that the presidential committee’s budget was not under his supervision.
He said the committee was supervised by the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), saying, “I don’t know how much they spent. My office has submitted to your committee a detailed document on the issue.”

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