The Senate through its Committee on Public Accounts (SPAC) has indicted the Ministry of Labour and Employment on alleged N208million scam from N2.3billion collected for payment of beneficiaries of Skills Acquisition at zonal level.
The scam as discovered by the committee during an interface with Permanent Secretary of Labour Ministry, Ms Kachollom S. Dajua, on Friday, was carried out through forgery of signatures of purported participants.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry had in her submission told the committee that the programme was organised at all the six zones of the Federation in 2021 with N35 million for each zone apart from South East which is N32 million and that the fund used to fund the programme was drawn from Service Wide Vote (SWV).
She said the Ministry collected N2.3 billion from Service Wide Vote from 2017 to 2021 out of which N1.146 billion was meant for Capital while N1.162 billion was meant for recurrent expenditure as far as the programme was concerned.
She however, ran into trouble waters with lists of participants presented to the committee on account of alleged signatures forgery.
The committee headed by Senator Mathew Urhoghide (PDP Edo South), observed that few persons signed for participants to collect their stipends across the six geo-political zones even as the Ministry failed to make available their phone numbers for required verification.
The Committee Chairman in particular, wondered how millions of naira via cash, were paid to purported beneficiaries of the programme instead of bank transfers.
He pointedly said that Character of the signatures of purpirted participants submitted, looks the same with different names.
“These signatures can’t stand forensic test if subjected for that purpose. Besides, the money ought to have been paid straight into the accounts of purported beneficiaries who based on lists before us, had one person signing for their payment.
“This is clear violation of E- payment and not acceptable,” he said.
Efforts made by the Permanent Secretary for clearer explanations proved abortive as she failed to convince the committee members.
Collection and spending of the Service Wide Vote (SWV), by MDAs, has been subject of investigation by the Senate Public Accounts due to failure to subject the expenditure to the scrutiny of Auditor General of the Federation Office before expenditure.