Perhaps the last may have been heard one week after President Muhammadu Buhari queries the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Science and Technology, Dr. Mohammed Bello, for alleged financial misconduct to the tune of N7bn.
In a leaked query dated May 11, 2020 issued by the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, on the order of President Muhammadu Buhari according to her; Dr. Bello was queried for buying what was described as “uncompleted carcass” building for the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in the sum of N7bn.
Bello was said to have superintended over the transaction for the purchase when he was still the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
He was also accused of giving out seven deep drilling rigs for borehole procured at N1.3bn to some unnamed individuals under “fraudulent arrangements” amongst others.
The query with reference number HCSF/PSO/AOD/P.030/5B has “Allegations of acts of serious misconduct in your former post of permanent secretary in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development: Preliminary letter/query” as its title.
The query read, “The attention of Mr. President has been drawn to the acts of serious misconduct against you in your former post as the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on which he has given further directive.
“Specifically, it was alleged that:
“(a) in spite of the budgetary release of the N98,405,763,678.68 in 2018 (which represents 99.44 of 2018 appropriation), you did not take necessary action to pay the eligible contractors which led to the ministry having an outstanding contractual liability in the sum of N48.429,543,895.722.
“(b) under your leadership as the accounting officer, the ministry utilized the entire 2019 first quarter release of N7,737,208, 135.18 to pay for the 2018 contracts that were fully funded in 2018 which constitutes virement without authority:
“(c) as accounting officer, you oversaw a transaction for the purchase of a building for the use of the ministry at the sum of N7,044,746,264.06 without the conduct of the mandatory statutory structural and mechanical integrity tests: and prior approval of the FCDA Public Building Department: the building was eventually found to be an uncompleted carcass requiring billions of naira to complete and make safe for occupation;
“(f) under your watch as the accounting officer, the ministry procured seven deep drilling rigs for borehole at an average cost of N300,000,000. 00 without recourse to the Federal Executive Council;
“(e) and in April, 2019, you gave out the seven rigs procured at over NI .3 billion to some individuals under fraudulent arrangements, without the approval of the minister; and one of the rigs linked to you is yet to be returned despite several written reminders; and
“(f) you misapplied the intervention funds approved for the purchase of strategic grains and the establishment of the Rural Grazing Area Settlements in violation of extent Financial Regulations; two of such misapplications are:
“i. the use of N2.026,838,775.25 to pay contractors and execute programmes from the funds released for emergency procurement of strategic grains which is unrelated to the purpose of the funds.
“ii. the use of N3,527, 300, 419.06 for the payment of questionable contracts awarded under the 2018 appropriation from the rural grazing area settlement scheme which is not related to the purpose of the funds.”
“The above allegations are act of serious misconduct as provided in PSR 030401 and 030402 and if proven can lead to dismissal from service.
“If you desire to submit any representations why disciplinary action might not be taken against you, they should be submitted to me within 72 hours of receipt by you of this letter. Failure to submit them within this time limit will be taken to mean that you do not wish to make any, and appropriate action will be invoked against you.”
However, at the time of this report, it is well passed 166-hours already and nothing has yet been heard of the matter.
As a matter of fact, it is business as usual for the embattled permanent secretary who is reportedly still performing his official function unperturbed and untainted for a man having such a magnitude of allegation hanging over his head.
Citizens Newsroom is at the time of this report still seeking and awaiting confirmation from the office of the HOCSF given that the 72-hour ultimatum issued the permanent secretary has since elapsed.
We are seeking to confirm whether the allegations against the embattled permanent secretary were unproven, still being investigated and for how long or it’s in the usual Nigerian manner back to the status quo “fantastically speaking”.