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Auditors probe ex-minister’s travelling allowance

ABUJA—A former Works Minister under the Jonathan administration may be recalled to refund hundreds of millions of Naira of public funds, which he and his family members allegedly wasted under the guise of attending official trips while in office. Already, federal auditors looking into the books of the ministry, have discovered shocking details of how the minister siphoned millions of Naira in the name of sending top officials of the ministry abroad for official functions.
FEC METING: Federal Executive Council meeting at the State House, Abuja, yesterday. Photo: Abayomi Adeshida.
File: FEC METING: Federal Executive Council meeting at the State House, Abuja, yesterday. Photo: Abayomi Adeshida.
The checks have also unearthed how the minister signed and collected millions of Naira for what auditors describe as ‘ghost’ representatives of the Works Ministry. In a particular case, the said minister had smuggled the names of his wife and her sister into the official delegation of the ministry for a women’s leadership training programme in Dubai, United Arab Emirate and caused the ministry to pay for the full cost of their week-long stay in that country.
Details of the expenditure, which Vanguard obtained yesterday, indicated that the ministry paid of N6.5 million to the delegation that included the minister’s wife, her sister and three female officials. Apart from smuggling his wife and sister’s names into the official delegation, the minister also designated his wife and sister as the leader and deputy leader of the delegation to Dubai and approved Business Class tickets for them, while the three other delegates from the ministry sat in Economy.
While the minister’s wife was paid N1,475,023, her sister received N1,474,023 for the trip, which lasted from December 5 to 10, 2011.
Ticket money
Each of them spent N496,023 for the business class ticket, while each of the three other official delegate paid N250,000 for their economy class tickets. In approving the names of the delegates, the minister used the initials of his wife and sister’s names apparently to conceal their identities, but the account and audit personnel wrote the two names in full at the point of preparing the voucher and paying them, thereby exposing the politician.
In another trip, which the minister said he attended in Paris, France that same year, he requested for N20.2 million as ‘supplementary allowance’ for four ‘additional stakeholders’ to join him on the trip but did not disclose who they were even though the money was withdrawn from the ministry’s account.
The minister had written to the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, asking him to approve money for the additional stakeholders who were to participate in the World Infrastructure Summit in Paris and the approval was granted him within a day. The four undisclosed stakeholders got N4,057,220 for estacode, N5,433,400 for flight tickets and spent N10.8 million on participation fees for the one week stay in Paris.
However, auditors are angry that the names of the beneficiaries were not disclosed and would want the former minister to account for the huge amount, which he approved. A source in the ministry told Vanguard that the auditors would soon invite the former minister to account for the money, but did not say when he was likely to be summoned.
The discovery is coming at a time the former ministers have written to President Buhari, asking him not to label them as corrupt, since they did their best for the country. The former ministers also asked Buhari to give them due respect and credit for what they did well for the country during their tenure instead of vilification.

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