Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the Auditor General of the Federation, Mr. Anthony Mkpe Ayine drew whopping N10billion from the Treasury Single Account (TSA) in 2016, according to brtshadow.com.
Documents exclusively obtained by the news platform reveals that in 2016, the duo authorized two withdrawals of N5 billion each from the TSA, totalling N10 billion.
The TSA is a set of linked accounts for all Government payments and receipts. The initiative to have a single account for Government agencies started with former President Goodluck Jonathan and was implemented by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in 2015.
It was gathered that funds which belong to the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, was withdrawn without the consent and knowledge of the Executive Secretary and the management of the NHIS.
Sources hinted that in 2016, one Lagos-based Lawyer had petitioned the Special Presidential Investigation Panel, SPIP, set up by President Buhari, raising alarm over the alleged illegal withdrawal.
Acting on the petition, the panel in 2018, wrote to the Auditor General seeking clarifications on the legality of the withdrawal of N10 billion from the TSA belonging to the NHIS.
In the letter dated 13 February 2018, and signed by its Chairman, Okoi Obono Obla, SPIP gave the Auditor General a seven-day ultimatum to confirm in writing the veracity or otherwise of the illegal withdrawal of the N10 billion from the TSA.
In the letter, the panel also directed the Auditor General and the 16 Directors in his office to immediately fill out assets declaration forms and submit within 30days.
However, instead of responding to the query, the Auditor General wrote Vice President Osinbajo, challenging the powers of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel to investigate matters relating to funds.
The petition to the Vice President titled: “Humble Request For Clarification and Guidance on Letter Received From Special Presidential Investigation Panel For The Recovery of Public Property” accused the panel of not only usurpating the job of the Code of Conduct Bureau, but also of using uncouth language.
Dated 21st February 2018, and with reference number OAuGF/GEN.CORR/AuFG/IV/14, the Auditor General sought to know from the Vice President if the SPIP had the mandate of the NHIS whose funds were withdrawn from the TSA, to investigate the withdrawal.
Responding, Osinbajo in a letter dated 15th March 2018 with reference number SH/OVP/DCOS/Misc./00598, signed by Ade Ipaye, his Deputy Chief of Staff, queried the SPIP for daring to investigate the withdrawals.
The VP also asked the Panel to, “if any mandate exists, explain efforts made to clarify the role members of the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation may have played on the matter, including the nexus between the office and the alleged NHIS funds withdrawal.”
In his response, Chairman of the SPIP , Okoi Obono Obla told the Vice President that “by the instrument establishing the panel Section 1 of the Recovery of Public Property, the Panel derives its powers to investigate in Section 1 (a) (b) (c) and 2 (a) (b) and (c) of the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provisions) Act, Supra.” Obla’s response, which bore reference number SPIP/SH/OVP/2018/Vol.1/1, was dated 19th March 2018.
Interestingly, about two months later, precisely on 8th May 2018, the Solicitor General of the Federation (SGF) and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Dayo Apata queried the Presidential Panel. He stated in a letter with reference number SGF/PS/SPIPRPP/733/I that, from the seversl petitions received, the SPIP had breached directives from the Vice President. The directives weren’t stated.
In the letter, the SG directed the panel to do a report of its activities from inception and respond to issues raised in the petitions within seven days.
Sources told said VP Osinabajo and the Auditor General of the Federation scuttled all attempts made from 2018 till date, to probe and ascertain the whereabouts of the N10 billion illegally withdrawn from the TSA.
According to a source privy to the drama, “till date, no one has details of where the N10 billion went. Only Osinbajo and the Auditor General Ayine know where the money is.”
Continued the source, “The VP and the Auditor General scuttled the investigations by SPIP. That N 10billion issue and other issues the Panel was probing which Osinbajo has interests in, largely contributed to Obla’s sack and the disbandment of the SPIP”.