Senate Declares N2.8bn Missing From Ministry Account since 2008

There is uncertainty in the Ministry of Works and the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation over the whereabouts of N2.8bn toll gate revenue collected between 1999 and 2003.

The amount was declared “missing” in June 2008 by the Senate Ad hoc Committee headed by Senator Heineken Lokpobiri.

The committee was mandated by the Senate to investigate the management of funds in the nation’s transport sector between 1999 and 2003 before the toll gates were dismantled.

The former Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Ibrahim Dankwambo, had while appearing before the adhoc committee said N4.7bn was generated from toll collections within the four year period.

However, he had stated that only N1.9bn of the revenue was paid into the nation’s treasury.

The former AGF had assured the committee that his office would set up a panel to find out what happened to the N2.8bn and report back to the Senate.

But it was learnt that Dankambo never did before he vacated office to become the governor of Gombe State.

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When asked about the whereabouts of the revenue, the incumbent Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Jonah Otunla, told our correspondents that an official letter should be written to that effect.

In compliance with his request a letter dated January 30, 2012 was sent to him.

The letter reads, “In June 2008, your predecessor, Mr. Ibrahim Dakwambo appeared before the Senate Adhoc committee, which investigated the management of funds in the transport sector.

“The committee, which was headed by Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, was told by Dakwambo that N4.7bn was generated from toll collections between 1999 and 2003 before the toll gates were dismantled.

“Instructively, he stated that only N1.9bn was paid into government’s treasury.

“Since government is a continuum, and the issue involved is of public interest, we therefore, request your office to avail us of report of findings on the said N2.8bn, or what the AGF did on the matter.

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“We will appreciate supportive documents to validate any claim.”

The letter was written in compliance with the Freedom of Information Act.

At the instance of the former Chief Press secretary to the Office of the AGF, Mr. Hasan Dodo, the letter was sent to the Administration Department of the OAGF headed by Mrs. Grace Papka on January 31, and was duly acknowledged.

It was then referred to the Director, Funds headed by Mr. Babayo Shehu on February 2, 2012; from where it further moved to the Office of the Director, Revenue and Investment headed by Mr. Mohammed Dikwa on February 7, 2012.

But since February 7, no official response had been received from the OAGF despite repeated visits to the agency by our correspondent.

The OAGF claimed that its Revenue Department had sent a letter to the Ministry of Works requesting details of the N2.8bn.

The letter reportedly forwarded in April and as of the time of filling this report, no response had been received.

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Efforts to verify the status of the letter at the Ministry of Works on Friday were not successful as most ministry officials claimed ignorance of the matter.

At the OAGF, the new information manager, Mr Charles Nwodo, declined to comment on the issue, while his counterpart at the Ministry of Works whose name was simply given as Mr. Theodore, was said to be indisposed.

Section 15 (5b) of the Freedom of Information Act stipulates a period of 30 days for an FOI request to be processed.

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Adoke, had at a forum said the Act entrusted in his office the responsibility of ensuring compliance by ministries and agencies of government.

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