There was mild drama during an investigative hearing by the Senate Public Accounts Committee (SPAC) when the Managing Director of Bank of Agriculture, Alwan Hassan, was unable to show evidence of purchase of two Toyota Prado and one Ford Ranger Jeeps worth N49m meant for monitoring Agricultural Mechanisation Programme of the Federal Government.
The Committee chaired by Senator Matthew Urhoghide had summoned Hassan based on a query raised against the agency by the Auditor-General of the Federation, Adolphus Aghughu, in his 2017 report on the alleged missing Jeeps in the Kaduna state branch of the Bank.
However, when the Managing Director of the Bank appeared before the committee to respond to the query of the missing vehicles worth about N49million, he could not present any document to prove that the vehicles were actually bought.
Hassan only presented a letter from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, which authorised the withdrawal of the money from Agricultural Mechanization Fund to procure the vehicles.
His inability to show concrete evidence that the Jeeps were on ground further shocked the lawmakers.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Urhoghide, wondered how the MD could have paid for the vehicles without seeing them in the first instance.
The Chairman insisted the vehicles were never bought by the Bank of Agriculture and sustained the query of Auditor-General against the bank.
He however directed the immediate refund of the amount expended for purchase of the vehicles into the Federation Account.
The AuGF’s query reads: “The Bank expended the sum of N49,026,333.32 from the Agricultural Mechanization Fund specifically meant for lending to operators, on various unrelated projects.
“For instance, the sum of N23,122,095.24 was paid to a motor dealer through payment voucher number 0103576 dated 29th September, 2015 for the purchase of two Toyota Prado Jeeps.
“Similarly, the sum of N25,904,238.08 was paid to another motor dealer for purchase of Ford Ranger Jeeps vide payment voucher number 0103579 of 29th September, 2015.
“These purchases were purportedly made as project vehicles for the Agricultural Mechanization Programme. The management of the Bank could not justify the choice and the use of these exotic vehicles for supervision. The vehicles could also not be produced for inspection during the periodic check.
“The Managing Director should be compelled to account for all the stated motor vehicles, or refund to Government the sum of N49,026,333.32.”