In the last three months of 2023, the federal government, through ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) paid more than N900 million of public funds to different private accounts, FIJ has gathered.
Some of the payments, according to the Budgit govspend portal, were made by the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Productivity Center, Office of the Accountant General, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the Budget Office and the Pension Transitional Arrangement Department.
FIJ found that these expenditures are direct violations of Section 713 of the Nigerian Civil Service Financial Regulation 2009 .
The regulation states: “Personal money shall in no circumstances be paid into a government bank account, nor shall any public money be paid into a private bank account. An officer who pays public money into a private account is deemed to have done so with fraudulent intention.”
Recent events and the consequent moves by the Federal Government suggest that such transactions are considered serious violations of the accountability that Tinubu’s administration claims to represent.
On January 8, Tinubu suspended Betta Edu, the Minister for Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, over allegations of financial misconduct.
Edu had reportedly requested a N585 million deposit into the account of the “project accountant” for the Federal Government Grants for Vulnerable Groups project.
FIJ highlights other conspicuous cases of money sent to “project accountants” and other private individuals between October and December 2023.
FIJ gathered that about N338,908,999.92 was paid into private accounts by different agencies in October 2023. The Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) alone accounted for about N100 million in October.
According to the payment descriptions, these monies were mostly disbursed for pension allocations to several people under the Civil Service Pension Department (CSDP). Regardless, different private individuals were the beneficiaries of these payments.
The Federal Government, through the Secretary General of the Federation, also paid to the accounts of four different “project accountants”: Ayandayo Kayode, Benjamin Akpa, Osahaeyie Ali Innocent, and Aderinlola Omolola Ramota.
Kayode, Akpa, and Ali-Innocent were paid as project accountants for the secretariat, security and media sub-committees during the 63rd independence celebration in 2023. Ramota, on the other hand, was paid as the “project accountant” for a cabinet retreat for top government functionaries in November 2023.
In the same month, the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Yaba, also paid N45 million to David Agatha for a project tagged “Expansion of Mapping and Characterization of Ijede and Consolidation of NIMR HDSS Site”.
Most significantly, the Office of the Accountant General paid about N11.5 million to Rufus Egbeba and N5.7 million to Olufunke Taibat. Payment descriptions suggest that Egbeba is affiliated with the National Biosafety Management Agency and Olufunke with the Medical Rehabilitation and Therapists Registration Board of Nigeria.
FIJ found about N259,141,705.9 paid to separate individual recipients in November. The most conspicuous payments made in November were courtesy of the Code of Conduct Bureau, the Budget Office of the Federation and the Office of the Accountant General.
Two instances stood out in the case of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB). The entity paid Migine Saleh twice on November 14 and November 17. In total, Saleh received about N14 million for fueling, repairing and servicing motor vehicles for the CCB.
The Budget Office paid N5.1 million to Ekoja Peter with a short description that read “payment for sporting activities” on November 30. Seven days before then, the budget office had paid Elijah Oliyide about N7.9 million for the annual public service games in Gombe.
Like the previous month, the PTAD also paid significant amounts of money to separate individual accounts for different purposes.
December had the most ambiguous payment descriptions among the three months considered. In total, FIJ found about N299,155,058.47 paid to individual beneficiaries in December.
In one payment, the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation paid Kehinde Ogunsina about N16.5 million for stationaries. In another payment, Ogunsina received about N17.6 million for local training.
The same office paid Ogunsina another N20.8 million for local training. Elisha Illiya got N5 million for “IT and T others”while Ukomah Micheal received N6 million for sporting activities.
PTAD and the Office of the Secretary-General to the Federation also paid considerable amounts of money to different individual beneficiaries with different payment descriptions.