The Federal Government has queried the permanent secretary of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, Dr Mohammed Umar Bello, over “acts of serious misconduct in your former post of permanent secretary in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) .”
The queries are contained in a memo dated May 11, 2020, from the Head of Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, and addressed to Bello.
According to Yemi-Esan, Bello during his time at FMARD oversaw the transaction to purchase a N7 billion building for the use of the ministry.
This, she said was alleged to have been done “without the conduct of the mandatory statutory structural and mechanical integrity tests: and prior approval of the FCDA Public Building Department.”
The building was eventually found to be an “uncompleted carcass requiring billions of Naira to complete and make safe for occupation, ” the memo added.
The ministry under Bello’s watch as the accounting officer was also said to have procured seven deep drilling rigs for borehole at an average cost of N300 million without recourse to the Federal Executive Council.
“And in April, 2019, you gave out the seven rigs procured at over N1. 3 billion to some individuals under fraudulent arrangements, without the approval of the minister; and one of the rigs linked to you is yet to be returned despite several written reminders,” the memo also read.
Also, Bello was said to have “misapplied the intervention funds approved for the purchase of strategic grains and the establishment of the Rural Grazing Area Settlements in violation of extant Financial Regulations”.
Yemi-Esan further alleged that the ministry under him appropriated N2 billion to pay contractors and execute programmes from the funds released for the emergency procurement of strategic grains which is unrelated to the purpose of the fund.
She added that another N3 billion was used “for the payment of questionable contracts awarded under the 2018 appropriation from the rural grazing area settlement scheme which is not related to the purpose of the funds.”
The memo read in part, “The attention of Mr President has been drawn to the acts of serious misconduct against you in your former post as the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on which he has given further directive.
“ Specifically, it was alleged that: (a) in spite of the budgetary release of the N98,405,763,678.68 in 2018 (which represents 99.44 of 2018 appropriation), you did not take necessary action to pay the eligible contractors which led to the ministry having an outstanding contractual liability in the sum of N48.429,543,895.722.
“(b) under your leadership as the accounting officer, the ministry utilised the entire 2019 first quarter release of N7,737,208, 135.18 to pay for the 2018 contracts that were fully funded in 2018 which constitutes virement without authority. ”
The Service head said the allegations were “acts of serious misconducts ” punishable by dismissal from service if proved.
She noted that Bello could submit representations on why disciplinary action should not be taken against him within 72 hours.
She added that if none were submitted within the stipulated time, it would be taken to mean that he did not wish to make any, and appropriate sanction would be invoked against him.