The Public Accounts Committee of the 9th Senate has begun the probing of the alleged sale of two Prado Sport Utility Vehicles otherwise known as SUV, worth N31m for N1.5m by officials of the Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI), Maiduguri, Borno State.
The committee discovered the transaction following the 2015 to 2018 audit report of Auditor-General of the Federation (AuGF).
The AuGF had also issued a query based on the inability of the management of the institute to provide reasons for the ridiculous sale of the SUVs.
According to the report, the two SUVs, were initially acquired in 2013 and 2014 respectively, at a total cost of N31 million but the LCRI sold the vehicles three years after they were procured, at a total cost of N1.5million.
Reacting, the Chairman of the Public Accounts committee, Senator Mathew Urhoghide, at the resumption of the sitting, queried the agency on the sale of two government vehicles.
According to Urhoghide, the two Toyota Prado SUVs were purchased in 2013 and 2014, disclosing that one of the vehicles was with registration, No. 45KOIFG, while the other one was without registration.
The senator also questioned the Executive Director, LCRI, Dr. Alhassan Bibinu, on the reason the second vehicle was not registered.
The query reads partly, “The management of the Institute could not account for two Toyota Prado jeeps which were purchased in 2013 and 2014 with number plate, 45KOIFG, for one jeep while the other had not been registered. No reason was given for not registering the second Prado jeep. In addition, a Toyota Hiace bus with number plare, 45KO3FG, could not be accounted for during audit. This is a violation of Financial Regulation 2128 which states that “Every public officer is personally and pecuniary responsible for government property under his control or in his custody.”
Responding to the query, the institute said, “The vehicle (Prado jeep) was purchased on 21st March, 2014 at the cost of N18.7m and the former Executive Director, Dr Oluwasina Olabanji, sought the approval of ARCN for boarding the vehicle to the former chairman governing board, Mr Yakubu Tsala, at the cost of N750, 000 only. On the Second Prado jeep which was purchase at cost of N12.4m. The Prado jeep was purchased on 18th September, 2013 at the cost of N12.4m and request for approval to board the vehicle and was written to ARCN dated on June 7th , 2017.”
The LCRI was established by the Research Institute’s establishment act of 1975, under the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The LCRI’s mandate borders on conducting research in Crops, fisheries, livestock, agro-forestry, wildlife and public health.
Its headquarters is located in Maiduguri, Borno State, however the institute has other stations in Gombe State, Cross River State, Plateau State, Adamawa State, Taraba State and Yobe State.