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Defence, AMCON, Civil Defence, others snub lawmakers on N857bn service wide votes

No request for presidential jet before us yet – Senate

Defence Headquarters; Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Assets Management Company of Nigeria, AMCON and the Budget Office, among others on Tuesday boycotted an investigative hearing organised by the Senate Committee on Public Accounts on the utilisation of Service Wide Votes, (SWV).

The 14 MDAs scheduled to appear before the committee chaired by Mathew Urhoghide (PDP Edo South), collected N857 billion from the Service Wide Votes as it was learnt that some agencies collected funds bigger than their annual budget from the SWV.

The committee is probing the utilization of the Votes between 2017 and 2021 which is about N5 trillion, as over 200 agencies are expected to defend the utilization of the fund secretly collected without involving the National Assembly committees mandated by the Constitution to oversee them.

Urhoghide noted that the MDAs kept on failing to appear before the committee due to the alleged problem of accountability among them as against the provision of the constitution.

He said the affected agencies should have respect for the rule. Of law and come and give account of the money collected from Service Wide Votes without involving the National Assembly Committee mandated to oversight them.

“I don’t know the audacity to choose not to appear before the National Assembly committee.

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“We are going ruthlessly against all of them, we are going to issue a warrant of arrest against any agency which fails to honour the invitation,” the chairman stressed.

According to the record, the Budget Office collected N68billion; Refugee Commission – N10.2billion; Defence – N579billion; AMCON- N8.13billion; Civil Defence – N4.9billion; Foreign Affairs – N96.6billion; Military- N66.8billion; SGF- N23.9billion; NEMA – N2.3billion and the Air Force – N14billion collected from Service Wide Votes between 2017 and 2021.

Meanwhile, the Public Complaints Commission, PCC on Tuesday failed to present a letter of request for the collection of N1.7billion from Service Wide Votes from 2017 to 2021 to the Senate panel.

At the beginning of the investigative hearing, the chairman had told the PCC team the total amount of fund collected from SWV and requested Chief Commissioner, Abimbola Ayo-Yusuf to present the letter requesting for the Votes, which he couldn’t.

“I don’t have the letters requesting for the Service Wide Votes,” he said, promising to look for the letters and present them before the panel on November 1.

However, there was a mild drama as the chairman of Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Ayo Akinyelure (PDP Ondo Central), who oversight the PCC, said that he was unaware of the N852 million collected from Service Wide Votes by the commission.