Chris Ngige’s Ministry of Labour and Employment has been accused of an N88 million empowerment exercise scam.
In a 2016 report by the Auditor-General of the Federation obtained by TheCable, the project was organised for youths in Oyo and Ondo states.
“Two (2) payment vouchers with amounts totalling N88,110,000.00 (Eighty-eight million, one hundred and ten thousand naira) were raised and paid to 2 (two) contractors for constituency projects executed in Oyo and Ondo states,” the report read.
“The payments were for empowerment and training of youths on livestock production and provision of starter packs in Ondo State and empowerment and training of youths on fish production and provision of starter packs in Oyo state.
“However, the following anomalies were noted:
“There was no verifiable proof like delivery note and store receipt voucher (SRV) to confirm that the starter packs were actually procured and delivered.
“The identity or names and signatures of the beneficiaries of the projects were not disclosed or produced.
“In view of the doubts surrounding these payments, I was unable to certify the genuineness or legitimacy of these payments. Therefore, the ministry was requested to forward all supporting documents to my office for verification, otherwise the sum of N88,110,000.00 (Eighty-eight million, one hundred and ten thousand naira) should be recovered. No response was received.
“Accordingly, the permanent secretary is required to confirm the status of these projects.”
The medium also found that the ministry paid N34.9 million on vouchers that did not carry the details of the beneficiaries, locations or account numbers and signatures.
“Fourteen (14) paid vouchers with amounts totalling N34,986,675.00 (Thirty-four million, nine hundred and eighty-six thousand, six hundred and seventy-five naira) were devoid of relevant details such as names of beneficiaries, location or venue, account numbers of beneficiaries, signatures of participants etc., contrary to the provision of Financial Regulation 603 which stipulates that all vouchers shall contain full particulars of each service such as dates, numbers, quantities, distances and rates, so as to enable them to be checked without reference to any other documents and will invariably be supported by relevant documents such as local purchase orders, invoices, special letters of authority, time sheets etc.
“The permanent secretary should provide these details, otherwise recover the sum of N34,986,675.00 (Thirty-four million, nine hundred and eighty-six thousand, six hundred and seventy-five naira) from the payees and forward evidence of recovery for verification.”
Anthony Ayine, the Auditor-General of the Federation, in the executive summary, wrote: “The financial statements of the federal government for the year ended 31st December 2016 were first submitted to me by the Accountant-General of the Federation on 30th June 2017.
“Following my preliminary observations, the statements were significantly amended and resubmitted on 29th September 2017.
“Further amendments to the financial statements led to another re-submission on 29th December 2017 and 16th January 2018 before the final version was eventually submitted on 20th March 2018.”
Unconfirmed reports had suggested Ngige was one of the ministers Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, was referring to as flouting President Muhammadu Buhari’s orders.