The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, has reacted to a report detailing how her ministry illegally approved N10 billion for the National Assembly.
The report, published on Friday, indicated that Mrs Adeosun released the billions to the lawmakers despite the N125billion appropriated for the federal legislature in the 2017 fiscal year for recurrent and capital expenditures.
The fund was arbitrarily approved for the lawmakers by the minister in collusion with the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris.
Investigations by a news medium who published the report also showed that at least 44 of the 82 contractors the leadership of the National Assembly claimed they were owing were not registered on the National Database of Contractors, a database of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP). That means they are not eligible to be awarded federal contracts.
A further check by this newspaper revealed that 17 of the 44 firms were not even registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
In a statement by her media aide, Oluyinka Akintunde, Friday evening, the minister confirmed releasing the fund, but said her action remained legal.
Describing the newspaper’s report as ‘defective,’ Mrs Adeosun claimed that warrants were issued before the billions were moved to the lawmakers.
“The attention of the Honourable Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has been drawn to a smear campaign by an online medium, Premium Times, of “illegally sharing of N10 billion from the national treasury”.
“The Honourable Minister wishes to debunk the entire mischievous and made-up report of the online medium which negates the ethics and professionalism of journalism. The article displays a worrying lack of understanding of Appropriation, Payments and Control, and therefore be disregarded by the public.
“The Minister further wishes to state that warrants are issued in accordance with Appropriation and after due approval by the Cash Plan Committee chaired by the Minister.”
The statement however failed to explain the process of approval for such warrant.
The minister did not also address salient issues such as the release of funds outside the budget and award of contracts to unqualified companies.
Mrs Adeosun did not also explain why she failed to conduct further due diligence by asking for evidence that the contracts were duly awarded before she approved the funds for the lawmakers.
Another explanation the minister failed to make is why her ministry preferred to give N10billion of the N20billion allocated for the payments of federal contractors to the National Assembly which has a budget that covers all its recurrent and capital spendings