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N3bn Contract Scam: PMB Suspends Head Of Service, Oyo-Ita



President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the head of service of the federation (HoSF), Mrs. Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita, to proceed on an indefinite leave to allow the conclusion of the investigation being carried out by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The EFCC is probing Oyo-Ita over alleged controversial contract awards to the tune of N3 billion. Her suspension was announced last night by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF).

President Buhari approved the appointment of Mrs. Folashade Yemi-Esan as the acting HoSF with immediate effect.

In a statement issued by the director of media in the OSGF, Willey Bassey, said that Dr. Yemi-Esan, who until yesterday was the permanent secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, takes over in acting capacity.

Buhari also approved the extension of the tenure of seven retiring permanent secretaries for a period of one calendar year with effect from 1st October, 2019 to ensure stability in the Federal Civil Service and effective delivery on the nine priority areas of his administration as well as the mandates given to the new ministers.

The affected permanent secretaries are: Mrs. Georgina Ehuriah (Ministry of Interior), Mrs. Ifeoma I. Anagbog (Federal Ministry of Women Affairs), Mrs. Grace Gekpe (Ministry of Information and Culture), Dr. Umar M. Bello (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development), Suleiman Mustapha Lawal (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Mrs. Comfort C. Ekaro (Ministry of Water Resources), and Mr. Olusegun A. Adekunle -General Services Office (Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation).

Similarly, Bassey said that President Buhari directed the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation to commence the process for the selection of new permanent secretaries to replace all the retiring permanent secretaries.

Basset said: “The decision of government to extend the tenure of these permanent secretaries is premised on the need to ensure that the new ministers are properly guided, briefed about their sectors and to ensure that a solid foundation is laid for the delivery on the presidential mandate which they jointly signed.

“The permanent secretaries will also help the ministers to manage the process for the preparation of the 2020 Budget in line with the commitment of government to return to the January-December budget circle and help develop various policies and programmes aimed at lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years.

“The action of Mr. President is in exercise of the powers conferred on him under Section 171 (2) d of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended),” Bassey stated.

Before her suspension yesterday, the EFCC had quizzed Oyo-Ita over alleged N3billion contract scam, abuse of duty tour allowance, money laundering and theft of public funds.

After a four-day grilling during which she was in custody of the anti-graft agency beginning from August 8, Oyo-Ita landed in the hospital after being granted an administrative bail.

About N600 million was allegedly traced to the account of one of her key aides who was unable to give any justifiable explanation for it.

The EFCC later blocked the account and initiated the process of obtaining an interim forfeiture clause to seize the cash.

Preliminary findings, according to EFCC sources, showed that about N3billion was traced to Oyo-Ita through proxy companies.