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Senate panel alleges forgery in labour ministry’s N208m payment to trainees

The Senate Public Accounts Committee has uncovered alleged forgery of signatures in the payment of over N208 million to the beneficiaries of a zonal skill…

The Senate Public Accounts Committee has uncovered alleged forgery of signatures in the payment of over N208 million to the beneficiaries of a zonal skill acquisition programme. 

The programme was organised by the Ministry of Labour and Employment at all six geo-political zones of the country in 2021, with N35 million allocated to each zone except the South East, which got N32 million.

The fund was drawn from the Service Wide Vote (SWV), the government’s contingency fund in the annual budget.

The Senate panel is probing over 200 government agencies that benefitted from the vote’s N5 trillion between 2017 and 2021.

The labour ministry received N2.3 billion from the Service Wide Vote during the period, according to the documents from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation made available to the committee. 

Officials from the ministry, led by its permanent secretary, Ms Kachollom S. Daju, had presented the details of the beneficiaries of the skill acquisition programme to the Senate committee when they appeared to explain how the ministry spent the money it received from the SWV. 

But the committee chaired by Senator Matthew Urhoghide, after a critical assessment of the documents, discovered that few persons signed for all the participants in the six geo-political zones to collect their stipends.

Responding, the permanent secretary said due process was followed in paying the participants.

 Urhoghide said the committee would take appropriate action on the ministry’s submission.