Amnesty Office clears air on controversies surrounding ‘N26bn seized fund’

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The Amnesty has said it is expecting the to roll over unspent N26bn balance of its 2020 budget to enable it quickly meet up its outstanding obligations.

The Interim Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (rtd) spoke reaction to a viral report that the Niger Delta was unsettled following the decision of the government to seize the programme’s N26bn the guise of unspent budgetary provisions.

Dikio a statement signed by his Special Adviser, Media, Nneotaobase Egbe, however, clarified that the money was not seized by the but that it was mopped up 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, parastatals and agencies to be returned to the ’s coffers line the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy.

According to PAP, the had earlier written to the Accountant-General’s the need to roll over the money and release it to PAP to enable the programme meet all outstanding obligations tied to the money in the budgetary year.

Dikio explained that since PAP was a special programme national , the programme 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 plan that was sequential was initiated starting the oldest debt in consideration of vendors’ interest payments on loans secured from to execute their contracts. A total of 104 such debts based on 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 ’s anti-corruption and extant financial regulations, system was only able to disburse a portion of these funds before ’s Treasury Single Account was automatically shut down.

“The Accountant-General of the Federation was promptly notified of the need to roll over these funds and in response to mandatory queries, the Minister of Finance has been notified on the need to release the funds to enable PAP to promptly meet its financial obligations to contractors handling training and empowerment contracts”.

It was gathered that the made it impossible for the amnesty to meet up with the of ex-militants’ allowances for January in line with Dikio’s promise that ex-agitators would receive their allowances on the 25th of each month.

Ex-militants had vowed to block the Mbiama axis of the East-West Road to the non- of their January allowances.

But Dikio the ex-agitators to sheathe their swords saying that PAP was committed to resolving all the issues to urgently meet up with its obligations.

Dikio said: “PAP is committed to prudently dispensing its financial obligations based on extant financial regulations. We therefore urge ex-agitators/delegates and communities and contractors to remain calm.

“We are sure that these issues would be resolved speedily, and PAP would receive exclusive rollover of funds going forward to avoid this type of situation in the future.

“PAP remains committed to restoring payment of stipends on the 25th of every month once the bumps are cleared.”