N1.9BN FERTILIZER FUND DIVERTED IN AGRIC MINISTRY
BY Emman Ovuakporie
ABUJA - Federal Ministry of Agriculture has been queried by the Auditor-General of the Federation over an alleged N1.9 billion scam bordering on diversion of funds for the purchase of fertilizers.
This was revealed by the 2008 audit report of the office made available to House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Public Accounts.
Chairman of the Committee, Mr. Solomon Olamikan, directed the Permanent Secretary in the ministry to produce docu-mented evidence that the said amount was refunded as he claimed, today.
At a meeting with officials of the ministry, the auditors had reportedly asked the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Ezekiel Oyemomi, what he knew about the funds and why it was diverted.
Oyemomi had explained that the funds were used for the Garara and Azure waterfalls project, while 'N2 billion was returned to where it was initially withdrawn.'
Asked by Olamikan to produce evidence of such a refund and also why only N2 billion was refunded instead of the initial N1.9 billion, Oyemoni was allegedly unable to give a convincing explanation because at the time the money was allegedly diverted, he was not the Permanent Secretary.
Oyemoni was also unable to mention the name of the Minister at the time the money was allegedly withdrawn, but an official quickly mentioned Mallam Adamu Bello.
Olamikan immediately suggested that the minister be summoned to answer queries on why the fund was diverted from the purchase of fertilizer to cosmetic work on a waterfall. Oyemoni then promised to make available all necessary documentations on how the money was transferred and later refunded.
Not convinced, Olamikan demanded that only original copies of bank statements and memorandum raised during the transactions should be presented today by the Permanent Secretary.
Also, auditors are expected to produce documents to convince the committee on three tractors that were said to have disappeared between the Owerri and Ibadan storage facilities, today.