The House of Representatives has issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Federal Fire Service, demanding the refund of N1.48bn COVID-19 intervention funds due to unaccountability.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the House chaired by Hon Bamidele Salam on Wednesday, February 31, gave the directive, following the failure of the service to appear at the investigative hearing for the third time.
The committee‘s deputy chairman, Jeremiah Umar, moved a motion for the refund of the amount noting that “so many other agencies have appeared before this committee, and the investigation is ongoing. I don’t see any reason why (sic) the fire service will ignore a committee like this.”
Umar added that the Federal Fire Service ignored the panel’s invitation on three occasions, failing to address concerns about its COVID-19 expenditure. As a result, he emphasized the necessity for the service to refund the N1.48bn it received in 2020.
He said, “A public officer who fails to respond to the Auditor-General’s query satisfactorily within 21 days for failure to collect government revenue due shall be surcharged and be transferred to another schedule.
” Where an officer fails to give a satisfactory reply to an audit query within seven days for his failure to account for government revenue, such officer shall be surcharged for the full amount involved and such officers handed over to either the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission or the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission.”
This came just as the committee issued fresh invitations to some other defaulting ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal Government to appear and answer various queries standing against them from the office of the Auditor General of the Federation on the billions of naira allocated as COVID-19 a intervention funds
Those invited were the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, which got N50.5bn; Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, N33bn; Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, through the National Centre for Women Development-N625m; National Centre for Disease Control, N25bn; and the Federal Ministry of Health, N10bn.