CBN Under The Spotlight As Reps Query N2.8bn Office Renovation

lamido_sanusiIt was another round of exposition on Tuesday as to the level of squandering of public funds when the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Representatives queried several expenditures incurred by the Central Bank of Nigeria totalling N4.7bn, especially the renovation of its Port Harcourt branch with N2.8bn.

The committee, which is considering audit queries raised by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation, said the apex bank was yet to offer satisfactory explanations as to how the “huge expenditure was incurred.”

Chairman of the committee, Mr. Solomon Olamilekan, cited the N2.8bn the bank claimed to have spent on the renovation of its Port Harcourt branch without supporting documents as an “indication that due process was not followed.”

The committee gave the bank a 48-hour ultimatum to produce documents to defend its spending.

Similarly, the committee questioned the spending of N23m on the renovation of the residence of the governor of the bank, while a separate N50m was quoted for the same purpose. The committee noted that within four years, contract for the renovation the building was awarded for N74m and subsequently upped to N79.6m.

The committee however, did not mention the governors under whose tenures the contracts were awarded, but it said the audit queries covered “several years.”

The committee also frowned at the purchase of a property worth N848m for the National Planning Commission without transaction agreements.

In his response to the barrage of issues raised, Deputy Governor, Corporate Service of the CBN, Mr. Suleiman Barau, who led other officials to the meeting, promised to search for the requested documents and forward same to the lawmakers as he was not at the apex bank when the expenditures were incurred.

“I was not in the office when all this happened. I am only defending the institution,” he said.

On his part, the Director of Procurement, CBN, Mr. I. O. Gbadamosi, claimed that many of the documents might be difficult to trace due to the apex bank’s policy of five years life-span for records/documents.

But, the committee gave the bank two options, either to produce the documents or it would recommend the refund of the money spent into the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation.

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