The fund was drawn from the Service Wide Vote (SWV), the government’s contingency fund in the annual budget.
The Senate panel is probing over 200 government agencies that benefitted from the Vote’s N5 trillion between 2017 to 2021.
The Ministry of Labour and Employment received N2.3 billion from Service Wide Vote during the period, according to the documents from the Office of Accountant General of the Federation made available to the committee.
Officials from the labour ministry, led by its Permanent Secretary, Kachollom S. Dajua, had presented the details of the beneficiaries of the skill acquisition programme to the Senate committee when they appeared to explain how the ministry spent the money it received from the Service Wide Vote.
But the committee members, after critical assessment of the documents, discovered that few persons signed for all the participants in the six geo-political zones to pay their stipends.
The chairman of the committee, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, queried the ministry officials for paying millions of naira through table payment instead of through bank transfers.
According to him, the character of the signatures in the participants’ list looked the same, saying “You see one person signing for many people.”
“The Signatures can’t stand forensic test if we subject to the forensic test,” he said.
Urhoghide said the money ought to have been paid through the bank accounts of the beneficiaries.
Responding, the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Ms Kachollom S. Dajua, claimed that due process was followed in paying the participants.
Senator Urhoghide said the committee would take appropriate action on the ministry’s submission.