Senate Committee on Public Accounts, yesterday, ordered the new Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Environment, Abel Olumuyiwa Enitan, to provide the alleged missing 55 official vehicles in the ministry.
Chairman of the committee, Matthew Urhoghide, said as the accounting officer of the ministry, he (Enitan) should strive to recover the 55 missing vehicles, adding: “The Permanent Secretary is required to make effort to account for those vehicles not presented for audit.”
He, however, appreciated Enitan’s effort in trying to extricate the ministry from the infraction, saying:
“Any decision we take here is for the sustainable development of what the system should be.
“The Ministry of Environment is our own ministry and if somebody with the responsibility of a Permanent Secretary did not do well, it would be a disservice to the country for us to rationalise his actions.”
Auditor-General of the Federation, Aghughu Adolphus Arhotomhenla, had queried the ministry’s audit that indicated 55 vehicles were not presented for inspection.
He said all efforts to inspect them and confirm their availability proved abortive and their location could not be ascertained.
“We are aware that some officers take vehicles away when going on transfer or retirement. We also observed that the vehicles logbook has not been updated, making it difficult to track their movement and their record of maintenance.
“It is also noted that some official vehicles carry private plate numbers in place of government’s registered numbers.
“The above anomalies are because of management’s failure to ensure proper record keeping and due process in the ministry,” he stated.
While justifying the query, the Auditor-General cited financial regulations 2005, which says: “The accounting officer shall be responsible in ensuring that there are effective control in the use of government vehicles and for this purpose, ensure that appropriate records are maintained.
He explained such records include vehicles control register, exposition, approval for journey register, vehicle logbook and vehicle maintenance register.
Arhotomhenla said the essence of such records was to prevent government’s vehicles from being diverted for private use, unthorised journey that may be undertaken due to lack of adherence to the internal control system.
He recommended that the permanent secretary should account for the 55 vehicles not presented during the audit, insisting that he should also be sanctioned in accordance with provisions of financial regulation 3129 of the financial regulation.
It says: “Any officer who violates any other provision for which no sanction is specifically recommended, shall be taken to have committed gross misconduct and shall be disciplined accordingly.
“What you have presented as evidence here is just a schedule. Anybody can type anything and affix, there is no document here that connects with the vehicle.
“I will not accept this as evidence, because some of the vehicles don’t have chassis numbers. It was 2018 and we are in 2021 those vehicles still don’t have chassis number. It is not the issue of locating them, but that some officers must have taken those vehicles away.”
Responding, Enitan said the anomaly did not happen under him, but admitted that the vehicles were not presented to the Auditor-General at the time the ministry was issued the query because the list, the register and other documents of the vehicles were not available circumstantially to aid the auditor’s verification.
“Presently, the vehicles’ lists are available for the auditors’ sighting and verification. I invite the auditor and the committee to set up a sub-committee to come and verify and inspect the vehicles,” he said.