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Senate to order arrest of amnesty programme’s administrator

The Senate has resolved to issue a warrant of arrest against officials of the Presidential Amnesty Programme over their alleged failure to account for N10bn meant for the programme.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Account, Senator Matthew Urhogbide, said the decision became necessary following the failure of the scheme’s Interim Administrator, Col. Milland Dikio (retd.), to honour the committee’s invitation.

Urhogbide disclosed this in a statement made available to journalists on Sunday in Abuja.

The senator noted that the committee had invited Dikio based on the query raised against the programme in the 2018 report of the Auditor General of the Federation.

Documents obtained revealed that the Interim Administrator of PAP was billed to appear on February 3, 2022, in a letter dated January 25, the same year but never showed up.

In another letter still in 2022, he was expected to appear on June 16 in a letter dated May 19, but he still never responded to the invite.

He was also, in a June 28 letter, invited to appear on July 5.

He also did not honour the invitation.

Speaking on the persistent failure of the officials of PAP to appear before the panel, Urhogbide said it was an affront for an agency that comes to the National Assembly to get appropriation to decline to appear before the National Assembly to give an account of the money spent.

He said the committee had no other option than to issue a warrant of arrest on the accounting officer of the PAP.

The chairman said, “They have consistently refused to appear before the committee, which is very unfortunate.

“We will issue a warrant of arrest on the accounting officer of the PAP. We have left with no other option than to issue and explore that option.”

The query which the panel investigated read, “Audit observed that the sum of N 324,969,190.00 was paid to some members of staff vide six payment vouchers for hosting ex-agitators, 150 leaders of ex-agitators, and logistics for various training, etc in 2015 financial year.

“However, these vouchers and attached supporting documents revealed that the payments were made into a single person’s accounts on behalf of other beneficiaries in contravention of the aforementioned provisions.

“In the same vein, payment vouchers were raised and paid for the sum of N 3,465,713,500.00 in the 2016 financial year as monthly stipends to ex-agitators in various camps.”

It added, “These payments were made without due recourse to the e-payment policy of the Federal Government where the amount should have been paid directly to the accounts of the beneficiaries.

“This may lead to diversion of public funds for purposes other than intended.

“The Special Adviser is required to explain and justify why payments of amounts totalling N3,790,682,690.00 were made into a single person’s accounts on behalf of other beneficiaries instead of individual payee accounts.

“The Special Adviser should also provide clear evidence that the amounts due to each beneficiary were received in full by the individuals, failing which sanctions in line with provisions of Financial Regulations 3106, 3127 and 3128 should apply.”

Another query reads, “Audit observed that Payment voucher No: OSAPNDOC-/848/15 for the sum of N 136,930,500.00 dated 22/12/2015 was paid to a vendor without relevant supporting documents such as a letter of agreement, cost of logistics, list of Niger Delta Youths beneficiaries for a purported training event on Automobile Manufacturing Maintenance etc and this contravened the above-quoted Financial Regulation provision.

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