From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The Amnesty Office has cleared the air on the controversy trailing the purported seizure of funds belonging to it, declaring that the funds were unspent funds that were returned to the coffers of the Federal Government.
According to the Amnesty Office, it is expecting the Federal Government to roll the unspent money totalling N26bn which was balance of its 2020 budget back to it, to enable it quickly meet up with its outstanding obligations.
The Interim Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (retd) stated this while reacting to a viral report that there was tension in the Niger Delta region following the decision of the government to seize the programme’s N26bn under the guise of unspent budgetary provisions.
Dikio in a statement signed by his Special Adviser, Media, Nneotaobase Egbe, however, clarified that the money was not seized by the federal government but that it was mopped up on December 31, 2021as part of the government’s financial process.
The statement insisted that PAP was not singled out for such exercise as it was customary for unspent money across the ministries, paraststals and agencies to be returned to the federal government’s coffers in line with the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy.
It said it had earlier written to the Accountant-General’s office on the need to roll over the money and release it to PAP to enable it meet all outstanding obligations tied to the money in the budgetary year.
Dikio explained that since PAP was a special programme on national security, the programme should be considered for an exclusive rollover of its unspent budget adding that all the money had been tied to specific activities necessary to maintain the peace in the Niger Delta.
He said: “In order to reduce the debts owed several contractors since 2014, a payment plan that was sequential was initiated starting with the oldest debt in consideration of vendors’ interest payments on loans secured from banks to execute their contracts. A total of 104 such debts based on our records of the level of job completion have been paid as of December 31, 2021.
“Other verified payments could not be made before December 31, 2021 because PAP’s funds for September/October allocation and November/December allocation were received on the 28th of December 2020 and 29th December 2020, respectively.
“In compliance with the Federal Government’s anti-corruption and extant financial regulations, our system was only able to disburse a portion of these funds before the Federal Government’s Treasury Single Account was automatically shut down.
Dikio pleaded with aggrieved ex-agitators to sheathe their swords saying that PAP was committed to resolving all the issues to urgently meet up with its obligations.
“PAP is committed to prudently dispensing its financial obligations based on extant financial regulations. We therefore urge our ex-agitators/delegates and communities and contractors to remain calm,” he said.