BY BODE GBADEBO |
Members of the Senate Public Accounts Committee (SPAC) were stunned at the discovery of how officials of Lake Chad Research Institute, Maiduguri, Borno State, sold two Prado Jeeps worth N31million for paltry N1.5million.
The Prado Jeeps were procured in 2013 and 2014 respectively but were sold three years after the procurement.
The committee chaired by Senator Mathew Urhoghide, was further amazed when the executive director of the institute, Dr Alhassan Bibinu, was asked of his official vehicle and he informed the Senate panel that he is currently using refurbished Hilux van as official car.
The discoveries were contained in a query to the Institute based on the 2017 report of the Auditor-General of the Federation submitted to the National Assembly for consideration.
The query reads: “Management of the Institute could not account for 2 Nos. Toyota Prado Jeeps which were purchased in 2013 & 2014 with registration No. 45KOIFG for one Jeep and none for the other.
“No reason was given for not registering the second Prado Jeep. In addition, a Toyota Hiace bus with registration No. 45KO3FG could not be accounted for during audit.
“This is a violation of Financial Regulation 2128 which states that ‘Every public officer is personally and pecuniary responsible for government property under his control or in his custody.
“Inability of the Management of the Institute to account for government property under their custody suggests abuse and mismanagement, as government property may have been diverted to private use.
“The Executive Director is required to account for the vehicles. The issue was communicated to the Executive Director through my Audit Inspection Report Ref. No. EIAD/WTR 16/CORP/4 dated 21st December 2017 but he failed to respond.”
However, the Institute in its response said: “The vehicle (Prado Jeep) was purchased on 21st March, 2014 at the cost of N18.7million and the former Executive Director, Dr. Oluwasina Olabanji, sought the approval of ARCN for boarding the vehicle to the former chairman Governing Board, Mr Yakubu Tsala at the cost of N750,000 only.”
On the second Prado Jeep, which was purchased at the cost of N12.4million, the Institute explained that: “The Prado Jeep was purchased on 18th September, 2013 at the cost of N12.4million and request for approval to board the vehicle and was written to ARCN dated on June 7th, 2017.”
The committee, therefore, ordered the Institute to come along with the former executive director who gave the order for the sale of the two vehicles.