The Senate on Friday threatened the Managing Director of two Federal Government revenue generating agencies; the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA), Alhaji Mohammed Bello-Koko, and Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Bashir Jamoh with a warrant of arrest over failure to explain alleged frivolous expenditures.
The Senator representing Edo South and chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Matthew Urhoghide dropped the hint while speaking to newsmen.
He expressed disaffection over the failure of heads of the two agencies to appear before it and respond to queries raised against them by the Office of Auditor General of the Federation.
Checks revealed that the Managing Director of NPA is expected to give an explanation on an alleged N10 billion expenses while his counterpart in NIMASA is expected to give his defence on an alleged wasteful N814 million expenditure.
Senator Urhoghide who revealed that his committee was considering 2016, 2017 and 2018 Auditor General Office reports, concurrently vowed that erring agencies must be willing to give convincing explanations on how public funds were disbursed.
He said: “For 2016, 2017 and 2018 AuGF reports that we are considering concurrently now, the erring agencies including the NPA, NIMASA, among others, we are going to make sure that they appear.
“It might border on embarrassing the accounting officers of those agencies. We are ready to issue warrants of arrest against them because I know the Senate President will be well disposed to signing a warrant of arrest particularly against the agencies found guilty of the same offence when we were considering the 2015 report.
“If they want to repeat the same thing when we are considering the 2016 report, we won’t tolerate that. They cannot be spending government money and they would not want to account for it.
“We are carrying out a constitutional role as contained in section 85 (6&7). It is a provision that the agencies, including foreign missions, must account for the public funds that they spend by the provision of the constitution.
“If they still refuse to come, it means that they have something to hide. They must be dragged out to come and give account. The erring agencies in their best interest, they should appear before the SPAC to answer queries that had been raised by the OAuGF.
“The mistake some of the accounting officers are making is that they claimed the infractions did not happen during their tenure, therefore when the Senate Committee invites us, we will not go. They have forgotten that government is a continuum. When you take over assets, you take over the liabilities.
“However, we have always told them that they have nothing to fear. When they appear and the committee’s recommendation is that they should refund money, we will not ask the new accounting officers to pay. We would personalise it to the people who were there before.
“Any refund would be borne by the officer who was on the seat as of the time the infraction occurred. We could even ask the current occupants of the seat to call their predecessors and find out what happened,” the committee said.
Further investigations revealed that details of queries issued by the Auditor General’s report on the NPA were irregularities in the award, execution and payment for a contract – ₦7,503,344,599, Unpaid rent – ₦2,504,959,843.77 and Outstanding Insurance claims, ₦54,354,138.57.
Payments of insurance premium on non-existing assets – ₦18,338,056.45, Irregularities in the award and payment of contract – ₦18,300,000.00 ,Payment made for contract not executed – ₦20,830,638.00, Full payment made for partial execution of project – ₦20,830,638.62.
For the NIMASA queries were raised in relation to the payment of N741.9 million for services not rendered, irregularities in contract award- N48 million; Retirement of Cash Advances – N25 million and non – submission of Audited report.
On its findings on the 2015 report by the Office of Auditor General, Senator Uroghide said his committee had compiled the list of agencies that shunned its invitation and would recommend sanctions.
“We have concluded deliberations on the 2015 report of the Auditor General’s report and senate had taken actions on the submissions that we made at the Public Accounts Committee. Concerning the agencies that did not appear to defence the query issued against them by the OAuGF, we have their list and we have reported them to the Senate.
“The Senate in its strength and job description as an institution will take the necessary steps that will lead to sanctions against the affected agencies of government. The agencies cannot be a law to themselves.
“Part of the steps being taken by the Senate is not to attend to their appropriation this year. The Senate President has said it on the floor of the Senate but whatever final decision would be officially announced,” he added.