The Ministry of Labour has come under probe by the Senate’s Public Accounts Committee over suspected forgery of participants’ signatures at the zonal skill acquisition it hosted.
Each of the six zones in the federation received N35 million to organize the program in 2021, with the exception of the South-East, which received N32 million.
Due to the ministry’s failure to have the expenditure reviewed by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation, the money, which was withdrawn from the Service Wide Vote, was the subject of an investigation by the Senate.
In presenting the participant lists to the committee led by Senator Mathew Urhoghide, the legislators noted that few people signed for participants to pick up their stipends in the six geopolitical zones because the ministry neglected to provide the phone numbers of the skill acquisition program participants.
Urhoghide questioned why, in order to allow for full detailing, the money was paid in cash rather than via bank transfers.
He further questioned the absence of the signers’ names from the signatures.
The committee members reinforced the chairman’s observations by asking the ministry why it didn’t pay the training program participants through electronic funds transfer (e-payment).
“The signatures can’t stand forensic test if we subject them to forensic test.
“The money ought to have been paid straight into the accounts; you see one person signing for many people. There is a clear violation of E-payment,” Urhoghide noted.
However, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Ms. Kachollom Dajua, and other ministry representatives attempted to convince the committee that proper procedures were followed while paying the attendees of the zonal skill acquisition program, but they were unable to do so.
From 2017 to 2021, the ministry received N2.3 billion from the Service Wide Vote, of which N1.146 billion was allocated for construction expenses and N1.162 billion for ongoing costs, she explained.
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