In continuation of its mandate to investigate the sale of valued assets and other related matters by the immediate past administration of governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the Rivers State Judicial Commission of Inquiry, yesterday commenced a probe into the state’s monorail project, with the body observing a shortfall amounting up to N1.1billion in the figures presented by the office of the Accountant-General and that of the Ministry of Transport in the state.
At the Commission’s sitting inside the State Chief Judge’s ceremonial court, located in the State High Court premises, the Commission, through its counsel, Zacheaus Adango, noted that from the record of the amount disbursed to execute the monorail project, there was no
correspondence in the figure given by the former Accountant-General of the state, Ngozi Abu, who put the total figure expended on the project at N35.1billion, whereas the amount disbursed, according to the records available to the Commission from the state ministry of transport, which stood at N33.9billion revealed a short fall of about N1.1billion.
On the question of whether the former Accountant-General had direct dealings with the Rivers State Monorail Company Limited, Abu responded that he was aware of the company but he dealt directly with the ministry of transport based on the memo forwarded to his office concerning release of money.
He argued that he never had to release funds to the monorail company, as payments made to the company were tied to the state ministry of transport.
“As former Accountant-General, I have never met monorail in the whole of my life,
but I have met the ministry of transport,’’ he said.
Earlier, the Commission had alleged that the ministry of transport “carefully deducted” about 11.9billion, after the Accountant-General had said that a total of N35.1billion was disbursed, an amount which did not tally with the N33.9billion from the ministry of transport.
To put the records straight, the former Accountant–General reminded the Commission that a total of N11billion which was released in 20 January, 2010 and alleged to have been paid directly into the bank account of the monorail company, according to the Commission should be factored into the record from the ministry of transport.
At this point, the Commission agreed that what was left to reconcile the spending on the monorail project from the office of the former Accountant-General and the Ministry of Transport was about N1.1billion.
To this, the former Attorney-General stated that where other expenses, including compensation had been factored, “there should be no differences.”
Dr. Ngozi Abu, who stood at the witness box, also explained that, as a former Accountant-General of the state, his office never monitored how money released was spent, adding that it was the function of the ministry of budget to do so.
The Justice George Omereji-led Commission, through its counsel, Abu, disclosed that, to throw more light into the amount spent on monorail under governor Rotimi Amaechi’s administration, it had served a summons on the former Commissioner of Finance, Chamberlain S. Peterside.
Hearing on the monorail continues by the Commission, pending the appearance of other parties in the matter, Nigerian Pilot learnt.


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