Friday, March 7, 2014

NEWS UPDATE: Reps Accuse Okonjo-Iweala, Others Of Cover-up Over N29billion Pension Fund

Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Accountant General of the Federation, Jonah Otunla, and Director General Budget Office, Bright Okongwu, have been invited to appear before the House Committee on Pension to explain the circumstances surrounding the “disappearance” of N29 billion Police Pension Fund kept in a commercial bank.

The summon of the trio was necessitated by revelation at the committee sitting on Thursday when it was disclosed that the money meant for payment of pensions to policemen has been re-appropriated for other capital projects.

Appearing before the committee at the budget defence session, Director General, Committee for Pension Transition Arrangement Department, Ncllie Mayshak, said the money was moved from a commercial bank to an account at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and that the money was gone for good.

According to her, the money was moved when it was discovered that it was not really needed at the time.

The Accountant General has a way of re-appropriating money from one sector to another for optimal use,” she told the committee.

However, a bewildered member of the committee, Paul Dike, queried the power of the Accountant General to re-appropriate a fund already earmarked for Police Pension.

Angered by this revelation, the committee resolved that there was the need for the Accountant General and the Minister of Finance who had initially frozen the account to explain where they derived the power to re-appropriate without reference to the National Assembly.

Chairman of the Pension Committee, Mohammed Bawa, thereafter issued a note to the Finance Minister, Accountant General and DG, Budget Office, to appear before the committee to offer explanations.

Bawa threatened that if those being invited could not provide convincing reasons for their action, the committee would be compelled to conduct public hearing to expose those that breached the Act of National Assembly.

Meanwhile, Mayshak explained that the Minister of Finance has just granted a request to unfreeze another pension account which has N2.5 billion.

She said this became necessary because of the shortfall in money needed to pay pensioners adding that the money kept in the commercial bank is depleting.

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