Query Hangs On Perm Sec’s Neck For Buying Alleged Uncompleted Building At N7b

Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan
Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Science and Technology, is trying to wriggle himself from a query he collected for allegedly buying an “uncompleted carcass” building at N7 billion for the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Dr. Mohammed Bello was said to have superintended over the purchase when he was the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Bello was also accused of giving out seven deep drilling rigs for borehole procured at N1.3 billion to some unnamed individuals under “fraudulent arrangements.”

The allegations were contained in a leaked query letter dated May 11, 2020 and signed by Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, Head of the Civil Service of the Federation.

The query with reference number HCSF/PSO/AOD/P.030/5B has as it title “Allegations of acts of serious misconduct in your former post of permanent secretary in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development: Preliminary letter/query.”

Yemi-Esan said President Muhammadu Buhari, who had been briefed about Bello’s conduct directed the issuance of the query.

Quoting from the civil service rules, PSR 030401 and 030402, the HOCSF described the allegations against the permanent secretary as acts of serious misconduct which can lead to dismissal if proven.

She, therefore, gave the embattled permanent secretary a 72-hour ultimatum to respond to the allegations if he so desires.

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.

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“(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 a 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.”

(The Punch)