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Scandalous, Corruption In Federal Ministry Of Transport; Million Naira Shady Contract Deals

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The rampaging ghost of corruption currently ravaging the nation finally found its way into the Federal Ministry of Transport, Dipcharima House Abuja, pitching its tent with the immediate past Permanent Secretary, Dr. (Mrs.) Edogie Abigail Abebe

Investigation conducted by Abuja Today revealed that immediately on assumption of office in February this year, Dr. (Mrs.) Abebe allegedly wrote to the Federal Ministry of Finance requesting for the sum of N65m to renovate her office

I was gathered that the Federal Ministry of Finance responded by releasing the fund via letter dated 9th February, 2010 excerpts of which reads: PAYEE: FMT.BANKERS: CBN Abuja, Title: Local payment advice for N65M.”Please effect the payment immediately the amount indicated above and debit Consolidated Fund Account with Central Bank of Nigeria, Abuja.”

A reliable source at the Federal Ministry of Transport Headquaters, Abuja told our coreespondent that the Permanent Secretary, Dr. (Mrs) Abebe,alledgedly collected the amount even before the approval was given by the Finance Ministry.

Narrating how the money was expended, our source alleged that N9.9M was used to purchase 25 air conditioners through one Royal Ventures Ltd, believe to be her company with her brother as the front, while N80, 000.00 was allegedly spent for the installation of each of the air-conditioners. The remaining balance of over N53m was allegedly diverted to her private account, probably as a retirement 'gift 'to herself!

In another sweet deal contract Dr. (Mrs.) Abebe was also alleged to have awarded contract worth N563, 540,000.00 TO Panabiz International Ltd.FOR THE INSTALLATION OF Intercom System Junction Box in the Ministry's corporate Headquaters, Abuja, which was also executed by her brother. The contract is believed to have been awarded in utter disregard to all known financial rules and regulations of the Federal Government.

The source further alleged that the total amount of the contract was paid upfront to an alleged relation of the erstwhile Permanent Secretary via File No. MT/2120/S.I/C9/1.

However reacting to the development, the Chairman of the Joint Union Council of the Federal Ministry of Transport, Comrade Abdul-Aziz Aliyu said that the entire building housing of the ministry does not require any renovation because it is owned by Nigerian Maritime Administrative Safety Agency )NIMASA).

Shedding more light on his assertion, Comrade Aliyu stressed that it is the responsibility of NIMASA, a parastatal of the ministry to renovate the building if the need arises, even as he insisted that afterall, the minister's office was renovated at no cost to the ministry.

He said that the staff of the Ministry was agitating for payment of their overtime allowances and has nothing to do with the former Permanent Secretary.

Abuja Today gathered that a Director in the Ministry wrote to the Federal Ministry of Finance) F.MF) requiting the release of funds to the tune of N80 million instead of N40 million, to settle the overtime claims of the aggrevieved staff.

Responding to the letter of request, the F.M.F in the reply dated August 6th 2010 titled “RE: REQUEST FOR FUND FOR SETTLEMENT OF STAFF GENERAL OVERTIME CLAIM” reads in part: This is to acknowledge the receipt of your letter ref. no MT/355/11/1/224 dated 27/05/2010 on the above subject matter.”

“Unfortunate, we are not able to accommodate your request due to the fact that there is no budget got it.”

You may wish to look at your overhead vote to settle this obligation.”

“However this is until the financial positions improves later in the year, we may revisit the matter.”

Meanwhile the Ministry of Labour and Productivity has intervened in the matter through a Deputy Director (named withheld) by ordering the Ministry of Transport to settle the claims of the staff in the view of the genuineness of the demand.

Thid ugly development, Abuja Today reliably learnt, had forced the minister in charge of the ministry to stay away from office pending the resolution of the crisis.

As a the time of going to press, plans have reached an advanced stage by the management of the ministry to pay one year of the overtime claims out of the two years that is in contention.

All efforts to get the official reactions of the ministry through the chief Press Secretary to the Ministry, Kingsley Agha proved abortive as all calls to his mobile phone could not go through.

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