THE Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Science and Technology, Dr. Mohammed Bello Umar, whose stewardship at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) had been called to question over a N48 billion expenditure by the office of the Head of Head of Service of the Federation, has denied allegations of financial misapplication.
In a query dated May 11, 2020, signed by the HoSF, Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan, and obtained by The Guardian, Umar was accused to have mismanaged the sum when he served as the accounting officer of FMARD.
Responding to the inquiry, the serving permanent secretary insisted that due process was followed in all procurements and activities that took place during his January 10,2019 to December 18, 2019 tenure at the agriculture ministry.
He noted that the allegations “are mere concoctions based on malice for whatever reason best known to the perpetrators,” adding: Having served in the Federal Civil Service for over 35 years, I was never queried or found wanting, but earned various commendation awards and many indelible contributions to nation building.”
The HoSF document had alleged mismanagement of N48 billion out of the over N98 billion released to the ministry in 2018, representing 99.4 per cent of the year’s appropriation.
The second allegation against Umar was that under his leadership as the accounting officer in 2019, the ministry utilised N7,737,208,135 released in the first quarter to pay for some 2018 contracts already funded without approval from regulatory authorities.
He was also questioned for purchasing a building for the ministry at the rate of N7,044,746,264 without allegedly conducting mandatory structural and mechanical integrity tests and also without the approval of the Federal Capital Territory Development Authority’s Public Building Department.
The head of service said the structure was found to be an “uncompleted carcass requiring billions of naira to complete and make safe for occupation.”
Umar was said to have also procured seven drilling machines at the rate of N300 million each without the authorisation of the Federal Executive Council for approval, among others.
Dr. Yemi-Esan had said the allegations constitute “serious misconduct as provided in the PSR 03040 and 030402,” and if found guilty, could lead to Umar’s dismissal and prosecution, giving him 72 hours to give reasons why a disciplinary action should not be taken against him.
In his response, the embattled permanent secretary maintained that all the transactions were approved through administrative processes and principles as obtained in the conduct of government businesses.
Relating to the N7 billion building, Umar explained that he never directed or approved any form of purchase during his tenure, pointing out that his “decision to make such payments was reached at a management meeting presided over and approved by the current Minister Muhammed Sabo Nanono.”
– May 20, 2020 @ 10:09 GMT /