COVID-19: Reps carpet Aviation Ministry for disbursing over N250m into personal accounts

Beloved JohnJanuary 20, 20244 min

The Public Account Committee kicked against the release of funds into private accounts by the Ministry of Aviation. 

The House of Representatives, Public Accounts Committee (PAC), has criticised the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace for releasing funds which summed up to more than N250m into personal accounts in 2020.

The committee chaired by Rep. Bamidele Salam (PDP, Osun) queried the disbursement of N100m and N196m to individual bank accounts on behalf of two corporate associations. 

During the COVID-19 funds investigative hearing on Friday, January 19, 2023, the committee chairman revealed that the sum of N100m was released to the Car Hire Association of Nigeria through an individual account, and another N196m was paid to a Bamas Bamini on behalf of the Nigeria Travel Agency, and the Aviation Fuel Marketers. 

This contravenes the stipulation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy which prohibits disbursements into individual accounts to prevent financial mismanagement and misuse of public resources.

Speaking on this, the chairman of the committee said, “You can’t be running a country like a social club. Public funds were paid to an association that doesn’t have a corporate account? 

“I am sure we are going to recover this money. I don’t see how this can be supported. A registered association does not have a corporate business account and you paid 100m to a private account.”

In response, the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace, Emmanuel Meribole, disclosed that these associations had written officially requesting for payments to be made to these accounts. 

Meribole said, “This was based on the requests of the association. A letter was written to the ministry stating the bank account the money should be paid to.”

However, Rep. Salami pointed out that this violates the country’s financial regulations, noting that a governmental body cannot ignore the position of the law in favour of a private or public entity. 

“I don’t think financial regulations allow for public funds to be paid into individual accounts. Outsiders cannot give you a contrary opinion from what is mandated by financial regulation,” he said. 

The committee also asked for details of how the disbursed funds were utilised, and asked that the official responsible for the release of the funds appear before it on January 24, 2024. 

“We need the names and phone numbers of those people responsible for this. We also need to invite the Director of Finance,” Rep. Salami added.

Probe of  N4 billion loan 

Also, the committee probed utilisation and compliance of stakeholders who benefited from the N4 billion issued by the Ministry of Aviation in 2020. 

The committee summoned the beneficiaries of the loan, demanding that they appear before it to provide an update on loan repayment and the utilisation of the funds. 

The committee chairman said; “All those people who received from the 4bn fund should appear before the committee to clarify if they are complying with the refund of the money or otherwise. 

“Having read the submissions from the Ministry of Aviation that 4 billion was issued to different stakeholders in the aviation industry, we must get an update on the money disbursed. We are inviting beneficiaries to check for compliance in payment and utilisation.”

Beloved John

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