President Muhammadu Buhari has queried the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, Dr Mohammed Umar Bello, over fraud, corruption and embezzlement of billions of naira illegally expended while he was in charge of Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The query letter dated May 11, 2019, with reference number HCSF/PSO/AOD/P.030/58, was addressed to Bello from the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation, acting on a directive from President Buhari.

The letter signed by the Head of Service, Folashade Esan, accused Bello of using N3,527,300,419.06 for the payment of questionable contracts awarded under the 2018 appropriation from the rural grazing area settlement scheme, which was not related to the purpose of the funds.

The letter reads partly, “The attention of Mr President has been drawn to the acts of serious misconduct against you in your former post as the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on which he has given further directive.

Specifically, it was alleged that;

“In spite of the budgetary release of the N98,405,763,678.68 in 2018 (which represents 99.44 of 2018 appropriation), you did not take necessary action to pay the eligible contractors which led to the ministry having an outstanding contractual liability in the sum of N48,429,543,895.72.

“Under your leadership as the Accounting Officer, the ministry utilised the entire 2019 first quarter release of N7,737,208,135.18 to pay for the 2018 contracts that were fully funded in 2018 which constitutes virement without authority.

“As Accounting Officer, you oversaw a transaction for the purchase of a building for the use of the ministry at the sum of N7,044,746,264.06 without the conduct of the mandatory statutory structural and mechanical integrity tests; and prior approval of the FCDA Public Building Department; the building was eventually found to be an uncompleted carcass requiring billions of naira to complete and make safe for occupants.

“Under your watch as the Accounting Officer, the ministry procured seven deep drilling rigs for borehole at an average cost of N300,000,000.00 without recourse to the Federal Executive Council. 

“The above allegations are act of serious misconduct as provided in PSR 030401 and 030402 and if proven can lead to dismissal from service.

“If you desire to submit any representations why disciplinary action might not be taken against you, they should be submitted to me within 72 hours of receipt by you of this letter. Failure to submit them within this time limit will be taken to mean that you do not wish to make any, and appropriate action will be invoked against you.”

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