Rector of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron Akwa Ibom, Commodore Emmanuel Effedua (Rtd), has made clarifications that an ongoing probe of unaccounted monies to the tune of N1.05 billion is looking at an act that took place in 2012, almost five years before he was appointed to head the academy.
Effedua gave the clarification when our correspondent reached him to speak on the matter.
He said that the Committee on Public Accounts only invited him as the present rector of the academy, though the financial infractions happened from 2012 to 2017, while the Auditor- General’s report was released in 2018.
The Rector said he was surprised that some news reports presented the matter in a sensational and misleading manner to misinform the reading public.
“The infractions were submitted to National Assembly in 2018, and it was a compilation of infractions from 2011 to 2017 before I became Rector.
“It was only submitted in 2018 by the Auditor-General, so it is not a recent issue as some report was trying to make it look,” Effedua said.
He stated that during the hearing of the matter in Abuja last week, it was clear before the Committee that he did not have proper information or documents to be able to answer to the query, thus making the chairman give the Academy three weeks to get proper documents in place and adequate briefing on the issue, to enable for proper responses.
“I told them that I don’t have any information on that matter, and that till date, I could not find the audit query written to the Academy at that time. I was not even aware about such a thing.
“I also made it known that every effort I had made to have those I met on the ground to throw more light on this issue had proved abortive, and it is my believe that the remnant of those who carried out that act are still around and frustrating every effort. So, I pleaded with the committee to assist me in every way so that we can get to the bottom of this issue.
“Therefore, the chairman of the committee that sat in Abuja graciously awarded me three weeks to come back, because there was nothing to discuss.
“The hearing was barely 15 minutes because the chairman said that from what he had on hand it was evident that I don’t even have documents and information to help solve this problem. So, he directed the Auditor- General to help avail me copies of the original audit queries so that I can be well equipped in answering some questions,” the Rector added.
A critical point by the Rector was that since he assumed office, all withdrawals of monies are done through the Treasury Single Account (TSA) system, which applies to all Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs), and not through commercial banks.
He said: “Before 2015, MDAs were using commercial banks, but in my time it is the Central Bank through the TSA. So, I wouldn’t have been responsible. The infractions were submitted to National Assembly in 2018, and it was a compilation of infractions from 2011 to 2017 before I became Rector. It was only submitted in 2018 by the Auditor-General, so it is not a recent issue as some report was trying to make it look.”
Effedua, therefore, urged that journalists situate facts properly , in order to help the public understand the truth, rather than sensationalise issues to the detriment of efforts that the Academy had made lately, to be recognised as a citadel of maritime education.
He stated his support for the action of the Auditor General Office to look into that query, in order to set the records straight as should be.