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Senate Probes FIIRO Over N60m Ebonyi Cassava Plant

The Senate Committee on Science and Technology has constituted a three-man Ad-hoc Committee to investigate the budgetary expenditures for the procurement of an Integrated Cassava Processing Plant carried out by the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO) in Ebonyi state.

The decision was sequel to an identified discrepancy in the expenditure of N60million budgetary allocation for the procurement of the cassava plant project in Nkalagu.

According the figures presented by the acting Director-General of FIIRO, Dr. Agnes Yemisi Asagbra, at an interaction with the Senate Committee yesterday in Abuja, N60m was appropriated for the plant while only N49m was expended without explanation on the balance.

Irked by the variation in figures between the contract award of N49 million and the actual budget release of N60 million for the same project in 2019, chairman of the committee, Senator Uche Ekwunife, immediately constituted the Ad-hoc Committee led by Senator Obinna Ogba to investigate the discrepancy and report back to the committee.

It would be recalled that the federal government inaugurated the Nkalagu cassava processing plant in 2019, assuring that the industry would generate employment for youths and women in the state.

LEADERSHIP reports that FIIRO is an agency under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology and it has the mandate to come up with indigenous technologies for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the country.

The Ogba-led Ad-hoc Committee is mandated to determine date of the award of the contract and how much was expended and the balance.

Ekwunife berated the acting DG over the discrepancy, saying “this your submission is deceitful.”

“We are setting up Ad-hoc Committee to be chaired by Senator Obinna Ogba.

“You will give us all the details of the project, the date of the award from beginning, how much has been paid and the balance,” Ekwunife said.

Meanwhile, speaking with journalists shortly after the meeting the Committee, the FIIRO Director of Procurement explained that “the appropriation for the year (2019) was N60 million on that project.”

“And that N60 million has a breakdown of equipment, office furniture, then office equipment. But there is a memo that said you should not buy office equipment and office furniture in 2019, so we now took the component of the equipment and that was what we awarded, so that we don’t contravene (the directive),” he said.

On the whereabouts of the balance, he added “it has not been spent. It is in the Federation Account.”

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