The Public Accounts Committee of the House of Representatives investigating the alleged mismanagement of COVID-19 intervention funds from 2020 to 2021 on Monday grilled officials of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency on the ultilization of the over N60bn allocated to the agency during the dreaded COVID-19 epidemics
The Committee is chaired by Bamidele Salam (PDP-Osun).
It expressed disappointment over the way and manner the management of the agency led by its Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Chukwuemeka Agbasi appeared before the committee with a large delegation.
The agency, which was rescheduled to re-appear before the Committee on Monday, could not produce enough copies of the requested documents. Instead of producing about 60 copies to be distributed to members, it tendered only 11 copies and only made its submission just before the presentation on Monday as against last Friday, the deadline for submission of documents.
The agency claimed that a total of 192 projects were carried out across the country which members took turns to debunk as they claimed such never existed in their constituencies.
First to debunk the claim was Jeremiah Umaru, the deputy chairman of the committee, who said that the road mentioned in his constituency, Wamba-Akwanga road had been in a state of disrepair for several years and was surprised to hear the FERMA boss mentioning it as part of those facelifted during the Covid-19.
Another road from Tafawa Balewa area to a location around Plateau state was also put under the spotlight as a lawmaker and member of the committee requested for pictorial evidence of the road during that period. He said, “in the claim of the FERMA boss’ explanation, it does not sound real “
Another lawmaker from Osun, Adewale Mauruff expressed serious concern when he informed the committee that a particular project which was contracted had its fund moved into direct labour without satisfactory explanation pointing out that there was no time survey was done on the road to ascertain the need to maintain that particular section as mentioned by FERMA.
Another area which was not believed by the committee was the assertion by FERMA that it had about N8.9m still outstanding in its coffers just as a project administration fee of N9 billion was frowned upon.
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While ruling on the matter, the chairman announced that the Committee would take another critical look into the books of the agency and requested for more specific documents, vouchers, pictorial evidence of all the projects.
In a unanimous conclusion, the committee set up an ad hoc committee, headed by Hon. Jeremiah Umaru, to physically verify the projects as presented by FERMA.
The agency is billed to reappear before the committee.