The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts on Tuesday queried the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) over the disbursement of N1.4 billion as loans to beneficiaries.
The agency is to explain the disbursement of the funds to beneficiaries of its skill acquisition scheme since inception.
Out of the loans given out by the agency since its creation by the Ibrahim Babangida administration in 1987, the lawmakers found that it has been able to recover only N288 million.
The issue came up when the Director-General of the agency, Mr Nasiru Mohammed, appeared before members of the committee in an investigative hearing.
Deputy Chairman of the committee, Rep. Ibrahim Baba, had queried Mohammed on the poor rate of loan recovery.
He said that the report of the Auditor-General of the Federation to the committee showed that the agency had seven queries to answer.
The committee requested for the names and certificates of beneficiaries of the loan scheme.
The DG, however, told the committee that he had little knowledge of the issue, claiming that he was new as head of the agency.
He said that the loan was disbursed by the last administration of the agency but that he had submitted all requested documents by the committee.
The house committee, thereafter, adjourned hearing on the issue to July 17, 2017 for continuation of the session.
Also, the committee insisted that four staff of the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation must refund N46.1 million to the Federation Account within 40 days.
The committee directed the Permanent Secretary, Common Services Office (CSO) in the service, Mr Chaa Chinyeaka, to ensure the payment and furnish it with evidence of the refund.
The directive was based on queries raised by the Office of the Auditor-General to the Federation in 2013.
This prompted the lawmakers to query how the office expended over N46 million for flight tickets and training in December, 2011 alone.
The committee also queried how the office expended N30 million for the training of three procurement officers in the South-West and N26 million for flight tickets and other minor issues.
It also asked the permanent secretary to immediately furnish its secretariat with all retirement receipts before the next hearing.
Responding, Chinyeaka said that as at the time the money was spent, he was not in charge but pledged to comply with the directive.
In his remarks, Chairman of the committee, Rep. Kingsley Chinda, said that the committee deliberately refused to put the permanent secretary on oath because he was not in charge at the period under review.
However, he ordered that the four staff, N.A. Ifekoya, B.O. Ajakaiye, I.O. Amadi and Etim Gibson should refund the advances given to them.
He said that the amount totalling N46.17 million should be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Account and evidence of the payments submitted to the committee’s secretariat within 40 days.
The lawmaker warned Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) against fabricating documents for the purpose of responding to the queries from his committee.
“The crime of forgery is still in our criminal statute,’’ he said.
He reminded all that any information given to parliament whether orally or in writing with intent to mislead it was an offence with two years imprisonment. (NAN)