Buhari queries Perm Sec Science & Tech Ministry over contract scam

President Muhammadu Buhari has issued a query to the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, Dr Mohammed Umar Bello, over alleged financial misconduct and fraudulent activities during his tenure as permanent secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

In a letter dated May 11, signed by Folasade Yemi-Esan, head of service of the federation, the permanent secretary was alleged to have used the entire 2019 first-quarter to release of N7 billion to pay for the 2018 contracts that were already funded.

Global Sentinel reports that he was also accused of not paying eligible contractors despite the budgetary release of N98 billion to the agriculture ministry in 2018.

The Permanent secretary was further accused of purchasing an uncompleted building at the sum of N7 billion and
procuring drilling rigs at over N1.3 billion Naira to some individuals under fraudulent arrangements.

According to the query letter, the allegations could lead to the dismissal of the permanent secretary if he is proved guilty. He was therefore given 72-hour ultimatum to respond to the allegations if he so desires, reported the news medium.

The query read, “The attention of Mr President has been drawn to the acts of serious misconduct against you in your former post as the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on which he has given further directive.

“Specifically, it was alleged that: (a) in spite of the budgetary release of the N98,405,763,678.68 in 2018 (which represents 99.44 of 2018 appropriation), you did not take necessary action to pay the eligible contractors which led to the ministry having an outstanding contractual liability in the sum of N48.429,543,895.722.

“(b) under your leadership as the accounting officer, the ministry utilised the entire 2019 first quarter release of N7,737,208, 135.18 to pay for the 2018 contracts that were fully funded in 2018 which constitutes virement without authority:

“(c) as accounting officer, you oversaw a transaction for the purchase of a building for the use of the ministry at the sum of N7,044,746,264.06 without the conduct of the mandatory statutory structural and mechanical integrity tests: and prior approval of the FCDA Public Building Department: the building was eventually found to be an uncompleted carcass requiring billions of naira to complete and make safe for occupation;

“(f) under your watch as the accounting officer, the ministry procured seven deep drilling rigs for borehole at an average cost of N300,000,000. 00 without recourse to the Federal Executive Council;

“(e) and in April, 2019, you gave out the seven rigs procured at over NI .3 billion to some individuals under fraudulent arrangements, without the approval of the minister; and one of the rigs linked to you is yet to be returned despite several written reminders; and

“(f) you misapplied the intervention funds approved for the purchase of strategic grains and the establishment of the Rural Grazing Area Settlements in violation of extent Financial Regulations; two of such misapplications are:

“i. the use of N2.026,838,775.25 to pay contractors and execute programmes from the funds released for emergency procurement of strategic grains which is unrelated to the purpose of the funds.

“ii. the use of N3,527, 300, 419.06 for the payment of questionable contracts awarded under the 2018 appropriation from the rural grazing area settlement scheme which is not related to the purpose of the funds.”

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