By Umar Muhammad Puma
The House of Representatives committee on public accounts has directed the Bank of Agriculture (BOI) to refund within 90 days the sum of N3.5 million paid to MK Nkwa as “exit package” when he served as the interim chairman of the bank’s Shareholders Committee in 2014.
The committee’s ruling was sequel to a query by the office of the Auditor General of the Federation (AuGF), urging the House to prevail
on the bank’s management to refund the said sum considered to have been paid illegally.
The query which formed part B of the entire document flowed from the fact that MK Nkwa as at the time he was paid the said amount was, and still an employee of the Federal Ministry of Finance.
Having had the query rehashed by officials from the AuGF’s office, the Managing Director of Bank of Agric, Prof. Danbala Danju in his response said the bank’s previous management sought and obtained the approval of the Minister of Agric at that time to enable it pay the exit package to then interim chairman of the shareholders committee,
He said the committee was properly constituted and the payment of exit package was in order.
A member of the committee, Hon. Sunday Adepoju (APC, Oyo), questioned the rationale for paying such an amount to the interim chairman when a substantive chairman was to be appointed to last longer than the interim, who enojoyed allowances for his services.
The MD said the minister on his power as acting chairman of the board of the bank approved the request by the bank to pay the exit package.
Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, Hon. Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers) demanded for documents backing the claims by the MD, saying that the oral evidence so given cannot be admitted as proof of compliance.
“There was no board, the minister was supposed to act, he now delegated to the chairman, shareholders committee, and our concern now is whether the minister can actually delegate such powers, since he was also wielding a power delegated to him as acting board chairman”, Chinda said.
The MD again responded saying, “we relied on the powers of the chairman, the minister of Agric at that time”.
Sunday Adepoju, again drew an analogy using the Head of Service, saying that “if the HoS retires and a PermSec is asked to act in his/her stead pending the appointment of a new one, would the PermSec so asked to act be paid the same entitlement as the HoS?
The MD said there’s what is called “ratification of policies”, saying that the board applied for it and the Incomes Salaries and Wages Commission ratified it, enabling the bank to pay the money.
The Committee again noted that the approval submitted by the MD is for the reconstitution of the shareholders committee and not the payment of any exit package as claimed.
The committee therefore resolved that the MD goes to recover the sum of N3.5 from MK Nkwa who incidentally is still in service and return same to government coffers within 90 days.