Teddy Oscar, Abuja
The coordinating minister of economy and minister of finance, Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, could be a regular visitor to the House of Representatives, after she had been summoned by the Committee on Public Accounts to shed more light on the missing N24 billion that was released from the Service Wide Vote (SWV) in 2010 for the Police Pension Fund (PPF).
Okonjo-Iweala will appear alongside Dr. Bright Okogun, director general of Budget Office; Mr. Jonah Otunla, accountant general of the federation; and Mr. Samuel Ukura, auditor general of the federation.
This is sequel to a disclosure made by Mrs. Nellie Meshach, director general of Pension Transitional Arrangement Department (PTAD), on Tuesday that there was no documentary evidence on whereabouts of the money.
The committee also told Okogun to come before it with a memo showing the request for the missing fund, and also demanded that First Bank of Nigeria show how much was deposited in the bank and how much was disbursed, as well come up with the bank details of the transactions.
Mashach, who appeared before the committee to explain how the office expended the money it received from SWV account through the Budget Office, said that she just resumed newly to manage the office, adding that the money was received and expended before her appointment.
“We have no evidence. We have no record. It just looked bad on our part. We will rather tell you the truth or make it up,” she said.
Mr. Adeyemo Julius Adebolu, internal auditor of pension office, who was around when the money was received by the office, told the committee that it was true that the money was received from SWV for payment of pensioners in 2010.
He, however, told the committee that when the money was released, he advised the office to lodge it in a First Bank account.
He hinted that, after the lodgement of the money in the account, he was kept in the dark on further disbursement of the money to pensioners.
Adebolu also told the committee that a consulting firm was contracted to disburse the pension fund, instead of the staff of the police pension office.
He pointed out that he had to come in when some of the pensioners, after receiving their money complained of being short-changed by the consulting firm.
He added that he was not involved in the auditing process of the account.
In his reaction, Hon. Solomon Adeola Olamilekan, chairman of the committee, said that: “I am taken aback because what you are telling us is that Service Wide Vote is a slush account… it is an account that is used to settle the boys. This committee would ensure that it gets to the end of the matter. We’ll not allow this to go under the carpet.”