Monday, August 8, 2022

Reps Summon Aregbesola, NIS Boss Over Foreign Missions’ Visa, Passport Contracts

The House of Representatives’ Committee on Public Accounts has criticised the Nigerian Immigration Service for engaging consultants to manage visa and passport-related matters at Nigerian missions across the world.

Consequently, the committee summoned the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola; the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Shuaib Belgore; and the Acting Comptroller-General of the NIS, Idris Jere, to appear before it on Wednesday to address the issue.

The committee issued the summons on Friday when an Assistant Comptroller-General in charge of Budget, Olubusola Fashakin, appeared before the committee to represent Jere over a query issued by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation against the NIS.

The Chairman of the committee, Oluwole Oke, said the arrangement was costing Nigeria a lot of money and should be stopped immediately, since the country has personnel who have been adequately trained to carry out the same functions.

Oke said, “We visited your embassies. The Auditor-General raised some queries on some missions, so we visited South Africa and Atlanta, US. We discovered that Nigeria is losing serious money through your operations.

“You engaged consultants to manage your passports and visas platform. In our opinion, NIS personnel were trained to manage visa and passport matters. That is your core mandate. So, on what basis are you now engaging consultants? So what are you people doing in the offices? So, your men are idle, roaming the streets?

“This is not acceptable to the parliament. Something has to be done to stop the economic wastage.”

He added, “I give you a scenario: In South Africa, out of revenue of $213, a consultant took $90. Out of that $213, only $15 came to Nigeria’s purse. That particular consultant is managing 14 countries.

“Nigeria is bleeding through this window and we will continue to borrow money to finance our budget. And one person sitting down in the corner of his room is making $90 on each applicant. It will not continue.”

Summoning the Federal Government officials, Oke said, “The Minister of Interior, the Permanent Secretary and the CG of the service are to cause appearance before this committee to speak to this issue.

“You have a letter from this committee asking you to furnish this committee with the particulars of all the consultants you have engaged and the agreement you signed with them. Nigeria is bleeding through this window.

“What are your personnel doing? Why did we train and engage you? Your personnel are idle, roaming the streets, sitting down in the offices and consultants are doing your job and taking away our money.

“The Minister of Interior, the Permanent Secretary, the CG have to come with the agreement you signed, and give reasons that they have to deny personnel trained and employed to do this work.

“You are also exposing Nigerians to risk – data protection. We owe Nigerians a high duty of care and we would discharge it.”

The committee also directed the NIS to furnish it with records of procurement and utilisation of funds collected through service-wide votes for capital projects from 2013 to 2018.

At the Senate, the Committee on Public Accounts asked the management of the National Institute for Democratic and Legislative Studies to defend the allegations against it in the 2017 report of the Office of the Auditor General for the Federation.

The office, in a query against the NILDS, accused its management of allegedly purchasing 11 vehicles at the cost of N375.8m.

The query also alleged that the management illegally paid N67m to another account.

The committee is currently scrutinising the AuGF’s reports between 2016 and 2018.

The report indicted NILDS for allegedly inflating the purchase of the 11 vehicles by N36m.

The institute was expected to appear before the committee last Wednesday but failed to do so.

However, NILDS, in its written response to the query, claimed the payment was in respect of price variation due to change in the model of the vehicles supplied.

The management also claimed that the action was based on the approval of the National Assembly management.

The query reads, “At  the  National  Institute  for Democratic  Legislative  Studies,  it  was observed  that 11 vehicles  were  purchased  at a  contract  sum  of  N375,867,000.00 in  April 2016.

“Examination of  the  Capital  Account  Cashbook  revealed that  an  additional  sum  of N36,610,000.00 was  paid  in favour of  the  contractor  in September  2016  under the same contract,  without approval.

“The management  of  the institute  should  justify  the over payment,  which is in excess of  the  contract  sum, otherwise the  sum  of  N36,610,000.00  should  be recovered  from  the  contractor  and the recovery particulars should be forwarded  for  verification.”

Another query read in part, “Payments  totalling  N67,296,478.00  were  revealed  to  be  made  to payees  other than  the  payees  specified  in the  payment  vouchers.

“This  is  contrary  to  the  provision  of FR 613  which  stipulated  that  “Payments shall  be  made  only  to  the  persons named  in  the vouchers  or  their  properly  authorised representatives’ risk.  This irregularity could result to diversion and misappropriation of  government  funds.


“The Director-General (of NIDLS) is  required  to  recover the  total  sum  of  N67,296,478.00 and refund   to  treasury  with evidence  of  recovery  forwarded to  my  office (Office of  the  Auditor-General for  the  Federation).”

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