Senate probes Justice Ministry over N2.2bn service wide vote

The Senate through its Committee on Public Accounts (SPAC), has commenced thorough investigation on N2.2 billion unaccounted expenditure collected by the Federal Ministry of Justice, between 2017- 2021 from the Service Wide Votes (SWV).

Ministry of Justice is one of the over 200 agencies being investigated by the committee on amounts collected from N 5trillion Service Wide Votes between 2017 and 2021.

A SWV which is also known as the Consolidated Revenue Fund Charge is more or less the country’s contingency fund in the annual budget.

As contained in the 2019 Audit Report, a total of N2.2billion drawn from SWV by the Ministry of Justice was not subjected to the scrutiny of the Office of Auditor General of the Federation and was not also privy to the Senate Standing Committee mandated to oversight the agency.

At the investigative hearing held by the Committee on Friday, members were surprised when the line item in the money collected from the Service Wide Votes in 2019 for Capital project was put as “Critical Needs”.

The members of the Committee were disturbed about the N650 million earnmarked for the “Critical Needs’ in the line item under Capital expenditure.

Surprisingly, in the record of the Ministry, there is nothing that revealed that N650 million was received, but the AIEs from the Office of Accountant General of the Federation revealed that N650 million was released for the Ministry for ‘Critical need’ for Capital expenditure in 2019.

In addition, N955 million via AIEs was released to the Ministry from SWV in 2017, but the record made available by the Ministry showed N549 million which indicated that a difference of N406 was missing.

In 2018, the Ministry claimed to have received N492 million, but the releases from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, showed that N591 million was released which showed that N99 million was yet to be accounted for.

In 2019, the record from the Accountant General Office showed that the Ministry collected N650 million under Capital project with line item of ‘Critical need’, the Ministry failed to produce record that backed up the N650 million.

In the 2020, the record showed that the Ministry collected N62 million for recurrent.

Finally, in 2021, N1.4 billion was released from the Office of Accountant General through AIEs for recurrent expenditure, but the Ministry claimed it received N400 million.

The Ministry was indicted in the report for failing to present letters of request and approval for the money collected from SWV.

But Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mrs B.E Jeddy, said the Ministry will search for the relevant documents and present to the Committee on November 10, 2022.

The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Mathew Urhoghide (PDP Edo South), told her to search and produce required documents.

“Go and tell everyone that benefited from it and give us the necessary documents,” he said.