Members of the Senate Committee on Public Account were shocked Wednesday when informed that two Prado Jeeps worth N31million were sold for N1.5 million by officials of Lake Chad Research Institute, Maiduguri.
Reports to that effect were contained in the 2017 Audit report from the office of the Auditor General of the Federation.
According to the report, the Prado Jeeps were procured in 2013 and 2014 respectively but were sold three years after the procurements at give away prices.
The committee chaired by Senator Mathew Urhoghide (PDP Edo South) was further amazed when the Executive Director of the Institute, Dr. Alhassan Bibinu told them that a refurbished Hilux vehicle is what is being managed as his official vehicle now.
The query reads, “Management of the Institute could not account for 2 Nos. Toyota Prado Jeeps which were purchased in 2013 & 2014 with registration No. 45KOIFG for one Jeep and none for the other.
“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.
“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.”
But the incumbent Executive Director of the Institute in it’s response at the Wednesday session said the query was earlier responded to by the Institute in February 2018 .
The response as tabled before the Committee reads : ” The vehicle (Prado Jeep) was purchased on 21st March, 2014 at the Cost of N18.7 million 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 which was purchased at cost of N12.4 million, the Institute said, “The Prado Jeep was purchased 18th September, 2013 at the cost of N12.4 million and requested approval to board the vehicle and was written to ARCN dated June 7th , 2017.”
Apparently not satisfied with the response, the committee resolved to sustain the query.