COVID-19 funds: Reps C’ttee threatens AGF with warrant of arrest

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THE House of Representatives Committee on Public Account (PAC) has threatened to issue a warrant of arrest on the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF) Mr Ahmed Idris.

The Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Wole Oke (PDP-Osun), issued the threat over the failure of the AGF to appear before the committee to defend the amount spent on COVID-19 pandemic response before an investigative hearing.

The investigative hearing, which sat on Monday in Abuja, was on funds so far spent on the pandemic.

Oke said that if the accountant-general failed to appear on June 15, the committee would invoke the relevant sections of the Constitution for his arrest.

“The accountant general should not disrespect the parliament; he should stop disrespecting the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“The best the President can do for him is to appoint him as chief accountant; he must appear here on June 15 or we shall do the needful, we shall issue a warrant of arrest on him.

“We have asked him many times to appear and defend financial issues arising from the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation but he is running away,’’ he said.

Earlier, the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, told the committee that the centre had so far received N5.620 billion in two tranches.

He said that out of the total amount, N620 million was earlier released to the centre to enable adequate preparedness the moment COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.

Ihekweazu explained that the sum of five billion naira was later released for the actual response after the first case was recorded in the country.

The director-general told the lawmakers that the centre had so far spent a total of N1.2 billion in response to contain the pandemic.

“We have spent N380 million on procurement of medical and laboratory supplies, we spent N250 million on deployment of rapid response team across the country and N192 million on emergency procurement of medical equipment.

“We have spent N142 million on the engagement of ad hoc staff, N101 million on surveillance and response activities, N41 million on various repairs and reconstruction works and N34 million on training.

“We have spent N22 million on supporting the supply chains, N6 million on risks communication and out of that, a total of N41 million was paid as tax in areas where tax is necessary,’’ he said.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Musyapha Suleiman, told the lawmakers that a total of N500 million was earmarked for the ministry but only N250 million had been released.

Suleiman said that of the amount released, the sum of N164 million had been spent on the accommodation and feeding of returnees.

Contrary to claims on social media, Suleiman said that the returnees were not bearing the cost of their hotel accommodation and feeding.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Mr Abdulazeez Abdullahi, said that after the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 was set up, N48 billion was approved for the ministry.

He explained that the amount was for the provision of infrastructures across the country and that another N21 billion was to cater for operations.

The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs said it was yet to receive any COVID-19 fund.

The Committee adjourned the hearing to June 15, and demanded all relevant documents and details of expenditures.

NAN

– June 8, 2020 @ 19:10 GMT |

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