Fresh indications has emerged that the Federal Ministry of Transportation had padded the 2020 budget of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) with fictitious projects including acquisition of vessels and barges as well as procurement of dredgers and other equipment.
The National Assembly who uncovered the padding further discovered that over N4bn had been appropriated for the items between 2017 and 2019.
The lawmakers uncovered the alleged fraud during the budget defence session held for the Federal Ministry of Transportation and NIWA by the House Committees on Inland Waterways, Land Transport, Ports and Harbours, and Marine Safety and Education, in collaboration with the Senate Committee on Marine Transport.
The controversial projects include the National Freight Office in Idi-Iroko, Ogun State, for which N40.5m was appropriated in 2017; N166m in 2018; and N99m in 2019, while N400m was proposed in the 2020 budget estimates of the Federal Ministry of Transportation’s budget line item ERGP 27102753.
Another is the procurement of dredgers and other related equipment/vessels, for which N1.5bn was proposed in NIWA’s 2020 proposal.
The lawmakers observed that N2.2bn was appropriated for the project in the 2018 and an additional N1bn in 2019.
The Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Waterways, Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, who spoke to journalists after the session, frowned on the various infractions discovered in the successive budgets, while calling for a thorough investigation into the funds expended on the projects.