The Senate Public Account Committee (SPAC) has sustained the damming verdict of the Auditor General for the Federation on the management of the N4.6billion fund meant to tackle the Ebola scourge in Nigeria by the Ministry of Health.
The Chairman of SPAC, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, said he gave the nod following the alleged refusal of the Ministry’s officials to honour the invitations of his panel despite series of invitations extended to them.
The AuGF had in his 2015 audit report, recommended that the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry should produce necessary documents, detailing the expenditure of the money.
Urhoghide, whose panel is scrutinising the 2015 AuGF report, alleged that the attitudes of the ministry officials had lent credence to recommendations of the Auditor General for the Federation.
The AuGF query reads: “Following the sudden outbreak of the Ebola disease in Nigeria and the determination of the Federal Government to contain and control the spread of the disease, a total sum of N4,887,079,750.00 was released to control the Ebola disease.
“The sum of N1,992,548,500.00 was released on August 11, 2014 while the balance of N2,894,531,250.00 was released on 4th November 2014.
“The funds were said to be kept in a commercial bank Account Number 0122391169.
“Information extracted from the Cash book and copies of Bank mandates made available to my officers showed that amounts totalling N954,680,339.86 were spent between 20th August and December 21, 2014.
“Regrettably, these figures could not be authenticated or verified owing to the refusal of the Federal Ministry of Health to release the Wema Bank statement of account, the bank reconciliation statements, relevant payment vouchers and other related documents for my examination.
“As such, I cannot confirm that the items were actually supplied, that they conformed with the contract quality specifications and that the elements of economy, efficiency and effectiveness were observed in awarding the contracts.
“Aside the contracts, there were other expenditures such as Duty Tour Allowances and Trainings, the details of which were equally not made available.
“Consequently, the Permanent Secretary was requested to kindly release all the documents and records relating to the Ebola Virus Disease Fund (Wema Bank) for my scrutiny.
“Similarly, the preliminary examination of the Cash Book and the Bank Statement relating to the First Bank Account No. 20238265786 maintained for the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control by the Federal Ministry of Health revealed that amounts totaling N1,193,235,150.77 were paid out to various individuals and corporate entities between January 2014 and June 2015.
“However, relevant transaction documents such as payment vouchers relating to these expenditures were not made available to my officers for audit.
“Therefore, I am unable to certify that these transactions were properly conducted in the interest of the Federal Government.
“The Permanent Secretary has been requested to produce all the payment vouchers and other documents relating to this account for the period January 2014 – December 2015 for my examination.”