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UNILAG

The Visitation Panel to the University of Lagos, UNILAG, has ordered the management to close all its accounts in commercial banks, Siggy reports.

The panel also said it discovered cases of financial abuses by top officials of the institution, noting that it found the university in continuous breach of the directive on Treasury Single Account, TSA, system.

The seven-member panel, led by Gen. Martin Agwai (retd), stated this in its report submitted to the Federal Government.

The panel, which was constituted on March 29, 2021, was mandated to probe the affairs of UNILAG between 2016 and 2020, gave the directive in its report to the Federal Government.

The report reads: “Unless with the written permission of the President, all the University of Lagos limited liability companies are not allowed to keep their accounts with commercial banks. They are supposed to keep their accounts only with the Central Bank, through the Treasury Single Account, TSA, system that is already in place.

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“That any fund not transferred to TSA by the deadline given in the circular as of November 19, 2018, “shall be deemed as hidden and forfeited.

“The panel found the university in continuous breach of this directive and circular by maintaining accounts in commercial banks, without the requisite written permission of the President.

“The council should ensure that the university does not forfeit any of its funds by directing all the university limited liability companies to close all their accounts with commercial banks and embrace TSA, as directed by the Government.

“Council should ensure that competent persons who are verse in University’s administration and financial management be employed to manage the finances of the University.

“There are cases where the principal officers exceed approval limits by approving related and similar expenses that ordinarily should be a single piece of procurement.

“This could be interpreted as splitting of contracts or services for it to be within the limit of an officer and avoid rules governing big tender, breach of the Procurement and Fiscal Responsibilities Acts.”

The panel recalled that Wale Babalakin’s council, at its meeting held on Thursday, November 14, 2019, approved the constitution of a sub-committee to review the 2020 budget estimate of the University of Lagos following the findings of the Chairman of Council that the budget estimates submitted to the National Assembly and the one presented to the Finance and General Purpose Committee was at variance and irreconcilable.

The panel, however, said their explanations were untenable as they were simply trying to justify reasons for contract splitting.

The Agwai panel, in its report, said: “There are cases where the principal officers exceed approval limits by approving related and similar expenses that ordinarily should be a single piece of procurement.

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“This could be interpreted as splitting of contracts or services for it to be within the limit of an officer and avoid rules governing big tender, breach of the Procurement and Fiscal Responsibilities Acts.”

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The Visitation panel said regarding approval limits and splitting of contracts and services, the Bursar and other parties that were interrogated, including the Head of Procurement, based their position on lack of funds to take on the whole contract sum at once and that on overpayments, they explained that the excess of amounts paid for services were additional cost on certified work that became inevitable despite expiration of the first contract agreement.

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