By Ovie Okpare
The Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, Mohammed Bello accused of allegedly superintending over the buying of an uncompleted building for N7 billion for the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has denied any wrongdoing.
Bello also denied the allegation of financial misconduct made against him in a leaked query Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan on Monday.
Yemi-Esan said she had approval of the President Muhammadu Buhari to issue the query.
Bello, now permanent secretary ministry of science and technology, was accused of purchasing an uncompleted building for N7 billion without following due process.
He also was also similarly accused of giving out seven deep drilling rigs for borehole procured at N1.3 billion to some unnamed individuals under “fraudulent arrangements.”
However, Bello responding to the federal government query on Tuesday, said the contract followed due process and had the approval of the minister in charge of the ministry.
According to him, the minister of agriculture, Hon. Sabo Nanono, and the federal executive council (FEC) approved the purchase of the building.
In a letter dated May 14, he said all the financial transactions made while he was at the ministry of agriculture followed due process.
“While denying in totality all the allegations, I hereby forward my representations and response to all the false allegations contained in the query,” the permanent secretary said.
“I am constrained to give details of the transactions I approved to set the record straight and clear my name. I will like state the following that all transactions at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development were approved through Administrative process and principles as traditioned in the conduct of government business.
“That FMARD run a rolling budget year in year out as most projects are been captured as ongoing; that all contracts/procurement and payments at the FMARD followed due process. There are procedures for contracts/procurement and payments handled by various departments in all government agencies, FMARD inclusive.
“That my tenure as Permanent Secretary at FMARD commenced from 10th January, 2019 to 18th December, 2019 and hence cannot be held responsible or liable for actions prior to 10th January, 2019.
“I state that contractors were dully paid. The allegation of contractors not been paid is totally false. All contractors whose contract was captured in the 2018 budgetary allocation were paid in accordance to budgetary releases. However, contractors whose contracts are ongoing were rolled over as ongoing. Rollover capital projects are not new in contract management.
“I will state that due process was followed to the latter in the purchase of the said building. After submission of recommendation to the Hon. Minister of Agriculture; He approved that Council Memo be made to that effect. We then sent the Memo to the Secretary to Government of the Federation who then scheduled it for Federal Executive Council Approval. Consequently, the Federal Executive Council approved the purchase of the building.”
Bello accused the agriculture minister and Mu’azu Abdulkadir, the current permanent secretary of the ministry, of being responsible for the allegations against him.
“These are the same people alleging that the purchased office building was unfit for use,” he said.
“It is worthy of note at this point that it is the current Permanent Secretary FMARD who is actually guilty of virement as since after the approval of the above contracts has refused to sign and release letters of award of contract to the respective contractors but instead diverted and vire the funds to other projects in his locality that were never part of the appropriation, neither advertised nor bided for. This is a case of unequivocal virement.”