The Senate on Wednesday expressed shock and dismay at the sale of utility vehicles by officials of the Lake Chad Research Institute in Borno State at N1.5m instead of the original cost of N31m.
The two Prado Jeeps utility vehicles were procured in 2013 and 2014 respectively but were sold three years after.
Acting on the observation of a 2015-2018 report being considered by the Upper and Lower Chambers of the National Assembly, the Senate Committee on Public Accounts discovered the infractions while scrutinizing queries issued to the institute by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation (AuGoF).
The AuGF had issued a query based on the inability of the management of the institute to provide reasons for the under-sale of the jeeps.
The Committee Chairman, Senator Mathew Urhoghide, at the resumed sitting, disclosed the mood of the legislators when the Executive Director of the Institute, Dr. Alhassan Bibinu, informed the committee that he was using a refurbished Hilux as an official car.
The AuGF’s query read, “the management of the Institute could not account for two Toyota Prado Jeeps which were purchased in 2013 and 2014 with registration No. 45KOIFG for one Jeep while the other had not been registered.
“No reason was given for not registering the second Prado Jeep. In addition, a Toyota Hiace bus with registration No. 45KO3FG could not be accounted for during audit.”
The Auditor General further stated “this is a violation of Financial Regulation 2128 which states that every public officer is personally and pecuniary responsible for government property under his control or in his custody.
“Inability of the management of the Institute to account for Government property under their custody suggests abuse and mismanagement, as Government property may have been diverted to private use.
” The Executive Director is required to account for the vehicles. The issue was communicated to the Executive Director through my Audit Inspection Report Ref. No. EIAD/WTR 16/CORP/4 dated 21st December 2017 but he failed to respond.”
In its response to the AuGF’s interrogation, the Institute said, “the vehicle (Prado Jeep) was purchased on 21st March, 2014 at the Cost of N18.7m and the former Executive Director, Dr. Oluwasina Olabanji, sought the approval of ARCN for boarding the vehicle to the former chairman Governing Board , Mr. Yakubu Tsala at the cost of N750,000 only.”
On the Second Prado Jeep, the Institute said, “The Prado Jeep was purchased on 18th September, 2013 at the cost of N12.4m and request for approval to board the vehicle and was written to ARCN dated on June 7th , 2017.”
In its considered opinion, the Committee ordered the Institute to come along with the former Executive Director who allegedly gave the order for selling of two Prado Jeeps.