Tension As Head Of Service Probes Corruption Allegation At Budget Office

…DG Budget, Other Top Govt Officials Quizzed

There is tension in the Budget Office of the Federation over a petition written by a senior government official bothering on allegation of corruption and budget padding.

The Budget Office of the Federation is one of the most important parastatal under the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

It was gathered that some top officials of the Budget Office of Federation, including the Director-General, Mr. Ben Akabueze, are being questioned by an Investigative Panel Committee over alleged cases of corruption in the Office.

The investigation, it was gathered, followed a petition written by one Hajiya Sanusi Bilkisu, a grade level 14 officer, to the Head of Service, Mrs. Folashade Yemi-Esan over alleged corrupt practices in the Budget Office.

Bilkisu is also a Polytechnic Desk Expenditure Officer in the Budget Office.

The Senior Staff had petitioned the Head of Service of the Federation accusing the Director-General of the BoF of inaction in dealing with cases of corruption in the office.

Copies of the petition, which was obtained on Monday by THE WHISTLER have been sent to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed; and the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Mr Clem Agba.

Those that have appeared before the IPC, according to findings are the DG Budget Office, Mr. Ben Akabueze; Kaduna Polytechnic Rector Professor Idris Mohammed Bugaje ; Deputy Director in BoF, Mrs. Agatha Nkiru Tope-Ajayi and Bilkisu Sanusi.

This is not the first time officials of the Budget Office of the Federation are being questioned for corrupt practices.

In 2018, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission had invited over nine officials of the BOF “for an interview” relating to budget matters.

The recent investigation by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning was brought on by the actions of Bilkisu who raised the alarm of corrupt activities going on in the BoF claiming that the Director-General had refused to address the development.

Bilkisu had on March, 19 2020, written a petition to the Head of Service titled “RE: Complaint on inactions by the Director-General Budget Office of the Federation over corrupt practices in the budget of the Federation (Expenditure) Social 1A,” claiming that huge sums were padded in the budget of the Federal Polytechnic Kaduna.

She alleged: “In the course of my duties, I have uncovered colossal anomalies and corrupt practices in the said unit which I promptly reported to the Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation but same have been greeted with inactions hence my appeal to your office.”

Bilikisu added that on December 17, 2019, she again wrote to the DG Budget Office complaining of alleged improper retrieval of the Federal Polytechnic Kaduna file from her “in a surreptitious manner.”

The file, according to her, was retrieved by one Agatha Nkiru Tope-Ajayi, Deputy Director (Expenditure) Social 1A in connivance with Metu Gideon Shadrack, Mrs. Alice Ayegunle and Gwangwazo Auwalu Isa.

The petitioner further said that instead of the DG Budget to respond to these alleged corrupt practices, “in an attempt to cow me, a preliminary letter was issued to me on 22 January, 2020 (Copy Attached) alleging misconduct by me.”

Bilkisu in the petition to the Head of Service stated further that based on her insistence and her Reminder Letter of February 3,2020, that she be heard, the Budget Office DG called a meeting on February 6, 2020, which he chaired to investigate the matter.

However, she added that “Surprisingly, the said meeting was a mere charade as I was prevented from stating my case and tendering documents in proof of same.

“All the meeting was aimed at was to demand I apologise to Mrs. Agatha Tope-Ajayi for an allegation I never admitted and I refused.”

“In the light of all the foregoing, I am of the firm view that there is need for your good office to investigate these issues as I have no faith in the Budget Office to do the right thing.”

In her petition, she alleged that the budget of the Federal Polytechnic Kaduna was padded based on her observation.

This, she stated was done through the reduction in the Institution’s 2019 personnel Budget proposal on the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System platform.

The petition stated, “The 2019 personnel budget proposal submitted by the Institution was N8,276,467,612.00, but that the sum of N7,362,144,510.91 only, was reflected on the GIFMIS platform leaving a shortfall of N914,323,101.09 for the year.

“The increase in the Institution’s 2019 Budget proposal is due to the unapproved insertion of 200 Academic, Non-Academic Staff.

“In addition, all existing Staff were placed on their salary bar including those promoted in 2016, 2017 and 2018 which were dully corrected”.

The petition added, “Also removed, was the insertion of 48 staff who exited in 2018. The exercise informed the reflection of the Sum of N7,362,144,510.91 in favour of the Institution on the GIFMIS platform.”

“The request should not be taken serious as the Budget Office is not aware of circulars from the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission approving the allowances to Polytechnic staff in the country.”

When contacted, the Spokesperson for the Budget Office of the Federation, Mr Afolabi Olajuwo told this website in a telephone interview that he was aware of the petition. However, Olajuwo added that he would not be able to comment on it.

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