The Senate Public Accounts Committee has commenced investigation into the alleged sale of two Toyota Prado SUVs worth N31 million at N1.5 million by officials of the Lake Chad Research Institute, in Maiduguri, Borno State three years after the initial purchase.
The committee discovered the ridiculous transaction while scrutinising the 2015-2018 Auditor General’s report currently being treated by both chambers of the National Assembly, Punch reports.
According to the AuGF report, the SUVs were procured in 2013 and 2014 respectively but were sold three years after they were procured.
The Chairman of the Committee, Mathew Urhoghide, at the resumed sitting of the panel on Wednesday, expressed shock when the current Executive Director of the institute, Alhassan Bibinu, told the committee that he was using a refurbished Hilux as the official car.
The AuGF had issued a query based on the inability of the management of the institute to provide reasons for the ridiculous sale of the jeeps.
The query read, “The management of the institute could not account for two Toyota Prado Jeeps which were purchased in 2013 and 2014 with registration No. 45KOIFG for one Jeep while the other had not been registered.
“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 the audit.
“This is a violation of Financial Regulation 2128 which states that ‘Every public officer is personally and pecuniarily 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.”
The Institute in its response said, “The vehicle (Prado Jeep) was purchased on 21st March 2014 at the Cost of N18.7m 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 SUV, the institute said, “The Prado Jeep was purchased on 18th September 2013 at the cost of N12.4m and request for approval to board the vehicle and was written to ARCN dated on June 7th, 2017.”
The Committee, however, ordered the Institute to come along with the former Executive Director who allegedly gave the order for selling the two SUVs.