Reps Summon Aregbesola, NIS Boss Over Foreign Missions’ Visa, Passport Contracts
The House of Representatives’ Committee on Public Accounts has criticised the Nigerian Immigration Service for engaging consultants to manage visa and passport-related matters at Nigerian missions across the world.
Consequently, the committee summoned the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola; the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Shuaib Belgore; and the Acting Comptroller-General of the NIS, Idris Jere, to appear before it on Wednesday to address the issue.
The committee issued the summons on Friday when an Assistant Comptroller-General in charge of Budget, Olubusola Fashakin, appeared before the committee to represent Jere over a query issued by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation against the NIS.
The Chairman of the committee, Oluwole Oke, said the arrangement was costing Nigeria a lot of money and should be stopped immediately, since the country has personnel who have been adequately trained to carry out the same functions.
Oke said, “We visited your embassies. The Auditor-General raised some queries on some missions, so we visited South Africa and Atlanta, US. We discovered that Nigeria is losing serious money through your operations.
“You engaged consultants to manage your passports and visas platform. In our opinion, NIS personnel were trained to manage visa and passport matters. That is your core mandate. So, on what basis are you now engaging consultants? So what are you people doing in the offices? So, your men are idle, roaming the streets?
“This is not acceptable to the parliament. Something has to be done to stop the economic wastage.”
He added, “I give you a scenario: In South Africa, out of revenue of $213, a consultant took $90. Out of that $213, only $15 came to Nigeria’s purse. That particular consultant is managing 14 countries.
“Nigeria is bleeding through this window and we will continue to borrow money to finance our budget. And one person sitting down in the corner of his room is making $90 on each applicant. It will not continue.”
Summoning the Federal Government officials, Oke said, “The Minister of Interior, the Permanent Secretary and the CG of the service are to cause appearance before this committee to speak to this issue.
“You have a letter from this committee asking you to furnish this committee with the particulars of all the consultants you have engaged and the agreement you signed with them. Nigeria is bleeding through this window.
“What are your personnel doing? Why did we train and engage you? Your personnel are idle, roaming the streets, sitting down in the offices and consultants are doing your job and taking away our money.
“The Minister of Interior, the Permanent Secretary, the CG have to come with the agreement you signed, and give reasons that they have to deny personnel trained and employed to do this work.
“You are also exposing Nigerians to risk – data protection. We owe Nigerians a high duty of care and we would discharge it.”
The committee also directed the NIS to furnish it with records of procurement and utilisation of funds collected through service-wide votes for capital projects from 2013 to 2018.
At the Senate, the Committee on Public Accounts asked the management of the National Institute for Democratic and Legislative Studies to defend the allegations against it in the 2017 report of the Office of the Auditor General for the Federation.
The office, in a query against the NILDS, accused its management of allegedly purchasing 11 vehicles at the cost of N375.8m.
The query also alleged that the management illegally paid N67m to another account.
The committee is currently scrutinising the AuGF’s reports between 2016 and 2018.
The report indicted NILDS for allegedly inflating the purchase of the 11 vehicles by N36m.
The institute was expected to appear before the committee last Wednesday but failed to do so.
However, NILDS, in its written response to the query, claimed the payment was in respect of price variation due to change in the model of the vehicles supplied.
The management also claimed that the action was based on the approval of the National Assembly management.
The query reads, “At the National Institute for Democratic Legislative Studies, it was observed that 11 vehicles were purchased at a contract sum of N375,867,000.00 in April 2016.
“Examination of the Capital Account Cashbook revealed that an additional sum of N36,610,000.00 was paid in favour of the contractor in September 2016 under the same contract, without approval.
“The management of the institute should justify the overpayment, which is in excess of the contract sum, otherwise the sum of N36,610,000.00 should be recovered from the contractor and the recovery particulars should be forwarded for verification.”
Another query read in part, “Payments totalling N67,296,478.00 were revealed to be made to payees other than the payees specified in the payment vouchers.
“This is contrary to the provision of FR 613 which stipulated that “Payments shall be made only to the persons named in the vouchers or their properly authorised representatives’ risk. This irregularity could result in the diversion and misappropriation of government funds.
“The Director-General (of NIDLS) is required to recover the total sum of N67,296,478.00 and refund to treasury with evidence of recovery forwarded to my office (Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation).”