The Dep. Speaker, Hon. Segepoh Solomon Thomas, who doubles as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), made this call whiles addressing witnesses from the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs (SWGCA) and that of African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) under the Ministry of Political and Public Affairs during the ongoing public hearings at Committee Room one Parliament Building on some of the Auditor General Reports for 2015-2016 queries raised into the irregularities related to payments without adequate supporting documents, withholdings taxes not paid over to the National Revenue Authority ( NRA) and more.
The Dep. Speaker allayed the fears of witnesses, adding that the public hearing is not to intimidate anyone, but to uphold public financial management and accountability of state funds disbursed by the previous Government for MDAs to undertake national development programs in 2016. He thus encouraged every witness not to lies. “If you tell lies under oath, you would be charged for contempt in that you would have committed perjury,” he warned.
He asserted that each financial year government normally dishes out huge sum of state funds to MDAs in other to move national development yet such development aspirations are often not achievable due to certain unpatriotic actions by MDAs, reiterating that the public hearing is one of the tools used to look into these accounts established by Government.
On the ongoing hearing, the Dep. Speaker stood down the witnesses from the aforementioned Ministries in that senior officials like the former Permanent Sectary, accountants, etc. of the past Government were not present to answer to probing questions from the Committee. Hon. Sengepoh Solomon Thomas said that the probing could not proceed when those that were in office during the Audit of the Auditor General were not present to explain how they spent state funds.
The witnesses from the SWGCA and the APRM were stood down to reappear respectively before the Committee on the 15th and 16th October 2018, and they were advised to ensure that they come along with former officials as directed by the Committee.