Huriwa Canvasses Independent Investigation Into N48billion Alleged Scam In Agriculture Ministry:
The Prominent Civil Rights Advocacy group-: HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has expressed strong disappointment with the Federal Government's handling of the raging allegations of almost N48 billion scam at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture in which it's erstwhile permanent secretary and now the Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Science and technology Alhaji Mohammed Umar Bello was reportedly indicted by the Head of Service of the Federation and queried on the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari.
HURIWA recalled that the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Science and Technology, Dr Mohammed Bello Umar, who was accused of “serious misconduct” while serving as the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, has replied to the Federal Government, saying he did no wrong just as he reportedly claimed that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had cleared him.
HURIWA however recalled that the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan, had, on the order of the President, Muhammadu Buhari queried Umar for allegedly buying “uncompleted carcass” building for the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in the sum of N7bn just as he was also accused of giving out seven deep drilling rigs for borehole procured at N1.3bn to some unnamed individuals under “fraudulent arrangements,”. He was also accused of failing to pay eligible contractors despite budgetary release of N98,405,763,678.68 in 2018 Appropriation leading to an outstanding of N49 billion.
HURIWA recalled that the indicted Permanent secretary Mohammed Umar Bello had reportedly in a six-page response, dated May 14, 2020, denied all the allegations leveled against him.
The Prominent Civil Rights Advocacy group HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) is however shocked that top government officials including President Muhammadu Buhari and the Head of Service went ahead to issue a query which has seemingly been contradicted by the indicted Permanent secretary Umar Bello who now claimed that the same authority issuing him the indictments actually approved that the Federal ministry of Agriculture should proceed with purchasing an uncompleted housing asset described as 'Carcass of an uncompleted building' for the humonguous price of N7 billion amongst other alleged infractions which the Permanent Secretary has disputed.
HURIWA recalled that the President Mohammadu Buhari had reportedly ordered the Head of Service to issue the query to the former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural, Dr. Mohammed Bello, who is now in the Ministry of Science and Technology, for allegedly failing to pay eligible contractors despite budgetary release of N98, 405,763,678.68 in 2018 appropriation, leading to an outstanding N49 billion.
HURIWA recalled that according to a letter from the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation dated 11 May, 2020, with a reference number HCSF/POS/ P. 030/58, and titled ‘Allegations for acts of misconducts in your former post of permanent secretary in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development: Preliminary Letter/Query’, he is also accused of purchasing 7 deep drilling rigs for N300 million without recourse to the Federal Executive Council.
HURIWA specifically affirmed that the letter read in part: “The attention of Mr President has been drawn to the act of service misconduct against you in your former post as permanent secretary in the federal ministry of agriculture and rural development in which he has given further details directive even as it was alleged that in spite of the budgetary release of the N98, 405,763,678.68 in 2018 which represents N99, 44 of 2018 appropriation the permanent secretary
did not take necessary action to pay the eligible contractors which led to the ministry having outstanding contractual liability in the sum of N48, 429, 543,895.72."
HURIWA has therefore faulted the entire scenarios playing out as political drama because it is inconceivable and indeed outrageous that the President of the Country can order that a query be issued to an appointee over allegations that the same official of governmemt has claimed that the approving authority who is President Muhammadu Buhari who ordered his indictment was actually the one who approved all the transactions for which he is being indicted just as the Rights group said it is unimaginable that the Permanent Secretary was queried for the same allegations that he claimed that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) investigated, interrogated and cleared him without such a sensitive information of such a high profile investigation not being made known to the President.
HURIWA expressed consternation that even though the EFCC is under the supervision of the Federal Attorney General and minister of justice and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice is answerable to the President, so how come that the President is not in the know that one of his Permanent Secretaries was investigated and he the President went ahead to issue a query over same allegations to the Permanent secretary who has now come out to make the sensational claims that the Agriculture minister and the Federal Executive Council were all involved in the said alleged official misdeameanor of purchasing a CARCASS OF AN UNCOMPLETED BUILDING FOR N7 BILLION?
"These questions are begging for acceptable answers and the way to go is to constitute an independent Judicial panel to investigate these allegations since the EFCC and ICPC appeared not to have behaved in a professionally competent manner going by the fact that the President ordered a query to a man who says the anti-graft panels cleared him. Primarily, the panel should dig into the circumstances surrounding the purchase of a CARCASS OF AN UNCOMPLETED BUILDING FOR N7 BILLION and now we are told that due process was followed. How? What due process will approve that a building described as a CARCASS OF AN UNCOMPLETED BUILDING should be purchased for N7BILLION? This critical question and others should be asked."
" HURIWA strongly feels that something is wrong. Indeed there is more to it than meets the eyes. Recently, the Ibadan zonal office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, arraigned a Permanent Secretary in the Oyo State Ministry of Agriculture, Alhaji Rasaq Kolawole, for allegedly defrauding one Ibikunle Alonge of N4,400.000 (Four Million, Four Hundred Thousand Naira). So how come that a bigger case of purchasing a house described by the Head of Service of the Federation as a CARCASS OF AN UNCOMPLETED BUILDING FOR N7 BILLION and they are telling Nigerians that due process was followed to carry out such an indefensible transaction or is it that the most powerful politicians are involved? Nigerians should demand for a transparent process to get to the roots of this alleged scam."