N24bn police pension fund missing

The probe into disbursement of funds through the service wide vote managed by the Budget Office continued yesterday with another startling revelation made by the invited government agency.
At yesterday sitting, members of House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts were told by the Director-General of Pension Transitional Arrangement Department (PTAD), Mrs Nellie Mayshak,  that there was no documentary evidence on the whereabouts of the N24 billion released from Service Wide Vote in 2010 for Police Pension Fund.

Due to the revelation,the Committee has summoned the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Accountant-General of the Federation, Jonah Otunla, Auditor-General of the Federation, Samuel Ukura and the Director-General, Budget Office, Dr. Bright Okogwu, to appear before it to shed more light on the missing fund.

The committee specifically asked the DG, Budget Office, to come before it with  a memo showing the request for the missing N24 billion. The bank through which the fund was released, First Bank Nigeria Plc, was mandated  to appear before the committee with certified true copies of documents to show how much was deposited in the bank and how much was disbursed, and as well come up with the bank details  of the transaction.

The PTAD boss was invited by the committee to explain how the office expended the sum of N24 billion it received from the service wide vote account through the budget office. However, while addressing the committee on how the N24 billion was expended, Mayshak said that, she just resumed recently to manage the office, and the money was received and expended before her appointment.

Insisting that she was being truthful, she said, “We have no evidence, we have no record. It just looked bad on our part. We would rather tell you the truth than make it up.”

The internal auditor of the pension office, Adeyemo Julius Adebolu, who was around when the saod fund was received, told the committee that it was true that the sum of N24 billion was received from the service wide vote for payment of pensioners in 2010.

He told the committee that when the money was released he advised the office to lodge the it in a First Bank account, stressing that, after the lodgement, he was kept in the dark on further disbursements of the money to pensioners.

Adebolu also told the committee that a consulting firm was contracted to disburse the pension fund, instead of the staff of the police pension office. He added that a lot of crisis emanated from the untidy arrangement, as he had to intervene when some of the pensioners after receiving their money complained of being short-changed by the consulting firm.

The auditor added that, he was not involved in the auditing process of the account. Chairman of the House committee, Solomon Adeola Olamilekan, in his remarks, expressed disgust at the situation.

“I am taken aback, because what you are telling us is that service wide vote is a slush account. It is an account that is used to settle the boys,” he said. To this end, he stated that the committee would  ensure that it got to the root of the matter: “we’ll not allow this to go under the carpet,’ he said.

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