Reps summon Prisons boss, perm sec over handling of funds

The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts has invited the Comptroller General of Prisons, Mr. Ja’ afaru Ahmed and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Culture, Mrs. Ayotunde Adesugba, to explain why their staff have failed to retire funds approved to them.

Also, the officers are to give reasons for failing to remit the Valued Added Tax (VAT) deductions to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) correctly and promptly as required by law.

Chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts, Kingsley Chinda, who issued the summons at the weekend after a session with the officers and their staff said the committee would always ensure that every appropriated fund expended must is properly accounted for by agencies of government and their workers.

At the scheduled meeting, the Prisons boss is also expected to produce the latest assets register of the service and all store received vouchers for Owerri, Bauchi and Kuje prisons to ascertain the volume of receipts by the Nigeria Prisons Service.

He was directed to come along with the four officers who failed to retire the N6.6 million advanced payments made to them since December 30, 2011.

The committee’s concerns sprung from queries by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation (OAGF) against the NPS between 2010 and 2013 and forwarded to the committee for investigations.

Chinda frowned at the non-remittance of 10 percent VAT deductions to the FIRS and called on Adesugba to appear before the panel to explain the action of the staff in her ministry.

She is to also explain the whereabouts of five vehicles belonging to the ministry, which were declared missing, with only two having been recovered so far.

The committee promised to embark on on-the-spot- inspection of the recovered vehicles today and carry out other findings as would be necessary.

Members said they expected to meet one Mr. Alabi during the visit. They said he was the project accountant for one of the many conferences on which huge sums of funds were spent but are yet to be retired five years after the event was hosted.

Similarly, the team from the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture will respond to about 21 other queries raised by the auditor general of the federation, particularly on monies expended on conferences and seminars since 2011, which have not been retired.

Meanwhile, a member of the House, Timothy Golu is seeking the intervention of the National Assembly to regulate all mortgage activities in the country and guarantee housing for all categories of workers.

Through a bill titled, “An Act to establish the Institute of Mortgage Brokers and Lenders of Nigeria to regulate the activities and ensure professionalism in the system and for related matters”, the lawmaker is seeking a legal framework to streamline mortgage operations in the country and end the chaos currently associated with land ownership, estate valuing and mortgage financing.

He said the players in the mortgage industry, such as surveyors, architects, engineers, estate valuers, developers and lawmakers were already in support of the bill and were looking forward to legislative action on the issue.

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