Petroleum Resources Ministry says it breached no law for alleged frivolous contracts.

Contracts were N14.5m for biros, N46m for letter head papers and N56 million for the supply of toners.

The Senate Committee on Public Account has hammered the Ministry of Petroleum Resources for circumventing expenditure approval threshold for contracts expressing disappointment on what it described as frivolous expenditures by the Ministry.

The Senate Committee on Public Account chaired by Senator Mathew Urhoghide reaction was sequel to the findings of the Auditor General’s Office on mismanagement of public funds contained in its 2015 audit report.

The Auditor General of the Federation, Mr. Anthony Mkpe Ayine had queried the disbursement of N14.5 million for the supply of Schneider biros, N46 million for the Ministries’ of letter head papers and N56 million for the supply of toners.

The findings by Office of Auditor General of the Federation reads in part : “The contract for the supply of Schneider biros worth N14.5 million was split into smaller packages of less than N5 million each was awarded to four different company in order to circumvent the permanent secretary’s approval threshold of N5 million.

“Similarly, the contract for the printing of the ministry’s letter head worth N46 million was also split and awarded to 11 different contractors.

“Also, the contract for the supply of toners worth N56 million was split and awarded to seven different contractors.

“The Permanent Secretary has been requested to explain this contravention of the Public Procurement Act, 2007.”

At the PAC session, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Urhoghide, asked the representative of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Godwin Akubo to respond to the query by the Auditor General of the Federation.

The Permanent Secretary however justified the expenditure as he insisted that no law was breached.

“The action of the ministry was a quick response to need of the various departments in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources. These awards followed normal rules and procedures.

“The contracts were not split. They were awarded to the various contractors at different times when item were needed.

“The sum of N46.6 million used for printing of letter head papers followed due process and large sum of money is explained by the volume of the letter head papers produced for most of department as per attached different letter headed papers.”

Apparently not satisfied with his defence, the Chairman of the Committee directed his Committee Secretariat to document the money spent and asked for refund from the officers involved in the ministry.

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