N’Assembly ignores auditor-general’s reports on govt corruption

Date: 05-01-2011 11:59 am (10 years ago) | Author: Aliuniyi lawal
- at 5-01-2011 11:59 AM (10 years ago)
Audit queries raised since 1999 by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation, recommending penalties for alleged fraudulent practices committed by public officials, may not have served any useful purpose.

Investigations indicate that serving or former public officials have either got away or will eventually get away with offences linked to them owing to the non-consideration of recommendations of audit reports by the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Findings by THE PUNCH on Tuesday showed that the National Assembly had not considered (and passed as a resolution) any of the recommendations forwarded to it by the committees on public accounts in the Senate and the House in the last 12 years.

It was learnt on Tuesday that as a result of the development, over 1, 000 recommendations arising from audit reports had been gathering dust on the shelves of the two legislative chambers.

The reports cover alleged fraud committed by officials in various ministries, departments, agencies and corporations as well as politicians in both executive and legislative arms of the government.

Under the 1999 Constitution (1st Alteration), the auditor-general is mandated to forward annual audit reports on the running of MDAs and other public offices to each arm of the National Assembly.

Such reports raise queries on suspected financial abuses or outright embezzlement and recommend appropriate penalties for errant officials.

The Senate and the House are in turn required to establish a Public Account Committee in compliance with the constitution, where the AG lodges his reports.

The PAC of each of the two arms of the National Assembly will investigate the reports of the AG by summoning those indicted to appear before it for defence.

Thereafter, the committee

will make its own final recommendations to the general house for consideration and approval (or disapproval).

Section 85 (4-6) of the constitution states, “(4) The Auditor-General shall have power to conduct checks of all government statutory corporations, commissions, authorities, agencies, including all persons and bodies established by an Act of the National Assembly.

“(5) The Auditor-General shall, within ninety days of receipt of the Accountant-General‘s financial statement, submit his reports under this section to each House of the National Assembly and each House shall cause the reports to be considered by a committee of the House of the National Assembly responsible for public accounts.

“(6) In the exercise of his functions under this Constitution, the Auditor-General shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other authority or person.”

For the recommendations of PAC to have any use, they have to be ratified by the whole House.

The House, in compliance with constitutional requirement, established a PAC under its Standing Orders and Rules.

The committee is empowered among others, to “examine the accounts showing the appropriation of the sums granted by the House to meet the public expenditure, together with the auditor’s report therein.”

It is also to “summon persons, summon papers and records, and report its findings and recommendations to the House from time-to-time.”

The House demands of the auditor-general to “bring to the attention of the committee any pre-payment audit queries raised by the internal auditors of a ministry, department or agency but overruled by the chief executive.”

Investigations, however, showed that since 1999, neither the Senate nor the House has considered any of the findings laid before it by PAC, a development which has rendered the work of the AG and PAC worthless.

Incidentally, PAC of both arms of the National Assembly have been drawing funds regularly from the national budget for its operations only for their recommendations to be ignored.

For example, in the proposed 2011 budget which is already before the National Assembly, there is a provision of N139m for the activities of the House’ PAC.

The Senate’s PAC has a provision of N128m. Similar funds were budgeted in 2010, 2009 and previous years for them to work on the AG’s reports and forward recommendations to the floor.

In one single report of the House’ PAC, which our correspondent obtained on Tuesday, the committee made 93 recommendations on the operations of 18 government agencies.

Most of the recommendations endorsed audit queries and penalties for alleged fraud committed by officials.

Investigations showed that this particular PAC report was laid before the House in June, but as at the time lawmakers proceeded on their Christmas vacation on December 21, none of the 93 recommendations had been considered.

In the particular case, the “ committee (PAC) therefore, recommends that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission should investigate the payments with a view to recovering the money.”

In the case of the National Assembly, a certain Senator was directed to refund N2m, which the committee described as “illegitimate.”

Many former and serving members of the National Assembly also took IOUs and travelling claims ranging from N1m to N2.5m, but failed to retire them.

Furthermore, a former minister was said to have paid N82.3m to a contractor “for a job not done,” while a prominent government agency was indicted for spending as much as N79.2m on “corporate gifts.”

In all, there were 93 recommendations in one out of the many PAC reports piling at the House.

When contacted, the Chairman of the House Committee on Rules and Business, Mr. Ita Enang, whose committee is responsible for listing reports for consideration, confirmed that “no single PAC report has been considered by the National Assembly since 1999.”

Asked why this was so, Enang put up a defence for his committee, saying that his duty was to list the reports, while the decision to consider it was that of the entire House.

He said, “I have always listed PAC reports; that is where the job of the Committee on Rules and Business ends.

“It is on record that not a single audit report has been considered by the National Assembly since 1999.”

He tried to push the blame on PAC, but when he was reminded that the committee had always done its work, Enang responded, “Allow me time to check the details. When I am aBosom  with the details, I will tell you.”

Findings also showed that the current AG, Mr. Samuel Okura, recently complained to the Speaker of the House, Mr. Dimeji Bankole, to do something about the situation.

Posted: at 5-01-2011 11:59 AM (10 years ago) | Gistmaniac
- mat-James at 5-01-2011 05:39 PM (10 years ago)
@Mr poster,
Rightly said, my boss was right (Samuel Ukura).
Thats why corruption is on increase, all audits reports are being abandone by the Public accounts committee (PAC),
Only reports that suit their interest on whom to crucified are being considered,
thats were the problem of this country lies and the issue of stealing our money continue to grow day by day,
let them argue it, all these are under our nose, greedy people   
Posted: at 5-01-2011 05:39 PM (10 years ago) | Upcoming


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