Patterns of ‘mystery employment’ and ‘settlement before employment’ have given much cause for concern Clerk of the House of Representatives’ Public Accounts Committee, Barrister Usman Ibrahim may become first top official to be investigated over such practice.
Findings by our reporter indicates that Barrister Ibrahim who has worked for government for some twenty years without a blemish in his file has now been asked to explain how he unilaterally employed two external workers for the committee.
He was said to have issued appointment letters to two external Technical Assistant to the Public Accounts Committee, regarded by many as one of the most sensitive committee in the House due to the nature of its assignment.
Some members of the House, especially those serving in the Public Accounts Committee have expressed displeasure over the unilateral appointment of the two external Technical Assistants to work with the committee without the approval of the House or the National Assembly bureaucracy.
According to letters issued to the two staff signed by Barr. Usman Ibrahim as Head of Department and dated 4th October, 2019, copies of which were sited by The Nation, the two staff, Seidu Amodu and John Okpeke Ogidi, their appointment took effect from 23rd September, 2019.
The letters reads: “Following our earlier discussion on the above subject matter, I wish to convey the approval of the Department for your engagement as Technical Assistant to the Committee, commencing 23rd October, 2019 and subject to renewal after two years.
“I wish to inform you that your schedule of duties include, analysing MDA’s responses to Auditor-General’s reports prior to the sessions and making recommendations, taking of minutes of Hearings/Meetings, participating in report writing and any other duties as may be assigned by the Head of Department.
“You are requested to report to the Head of Department for further instructions”.
Chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts, Hon. Wole Oke (PDP, Osun) denied knowledge of the appointments and declined further comments because of his tight schedules.
However, some members of the frowned at the development, describing the action of the Clerk as absolute disregard for the Parliament and the National Assembly bureaucracy.
He insisted that the House will investigate on whose authority such appointments were made and for what purposes since such has never happened in the National Assembly.
One of the lawmakers who spoke on condition of anonymity said the Clerk lacked the power to make such appointment under any circumstances.
He said “the powers to appoint staff into any Committee is vested in the National Assembly Service Commission in the first instance while the powers to deploy staff is vested strictly on the Clerk of the House of Representatives.
“Even the National Assembly Act setting up the Committee does not confer such enormous power on the Clerk to the National Assembly to appoint technical assistants to the statutory or standing Committees.
“So on whose authority did the Clerk appoints the two young men we suddenly met at the hearing?
“I can’t recall the Chairman discussing such appointments with us at any forum,” he said, adding that only the National Assembly bureaucracy has adequate manpower to carry out such duties.
“How can you bring external people into such a sensitive Committee handling sensitive investigations. This is very strange and shocking to us. We will have to raise the issue at our next sitting to find out certain things and from there we will take up the matter with the Clerk to the National Assembly”.
At the last sitting of the Committee on Friday, the two technical assistants were present and partook in the proceedings of the Committee adorning temporary Identifications of the National Assembly.
The Committee is a creation of the 1999 Constitution as amendment and saddled with the responsibility of investigating all financial queries from the office of the Auditor General of the Federation to government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs