P.M. News (Lagos)

29 May 2001

Nigeria: Ige Must Be Probed - Anyim

Lagos — The Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, has declared that the upper legislative house is justified in its probe of the activities of the Mines and Power Ministry when Chief Bola Ige called the shots there as Minister, arguing that there is enough documentary evidence of irregularies to support the Senate's insistence on a probe.

The senate president made this declaration yesterday during a visit to the corporate headquarters of the Independent Communications Network Limited (ICNL), publishers of TheNews, Tempo and P.M. News.

He said it is not true that the committee did not do a thorough job before announcing that it was going to probe the Ministry.

"My committee did not do a shoddy job. We did our work with a great sense of responsibility and commitment and in every sentence in that report, I read it and called the chairman of the committee back on certain issues and the chairman of the committee confirmed to me that for every sentence in that report, there is a document to back it up," he boasted.

He particularly talked about the fact that the Ministry's money was lodged in a private account and stressed that it was wrong to do that.

"Even the issue of putting the money in a private account, there is a letter from the ministry. We got the facts from the office of the Auditor-General , we looked at the records from the Accountant-General's office. Apart from the money being put in a private account, 6% interest was charged on it, which was higher that the existing interest rate of the time," he said, underlining the fact that the whole transaction appears messy and the probe necessary.

The senate president stressed that there was a presidential order that such money must be returned to the CBN and that whatever money accrues from the money must go straight to Consolidated Revenue Fund as an income to government and should not be disbursed by the ministry. This directive, stressed the senate president, was flouted in this particular case.

"We have not done anything wrong. It is because of these irregularities that we mandated the committee (Public Accounts) to report back to us, so that we can take a position.

"I do not see what the problem is and where it is coming from, we have not even indicted anybody.But I can assure you that we are committed to our work," the senate president affirmed.

It would be recalled that the senate stirred the hornest's nest when it recently vowed to probe the activities of the Ministry of Mines and Power during the tenure of Chief Bola Ige.

In response, Chief Ige, who thinks some fellows are out to destroy him, declared that he would do anything to clear his "good name."

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