The Senate, yesterday, revealed that about 444 federal commissions, agencies, corporations and parastatals, including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, are yet to submit the report of their audited accounts to the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation.
This, it said, contravenes Section 85 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which mandates federal agencies to submit their audited reports to the Auditor General of the Federation for onward transmission to the National Assembly. Consequently, it gave a deadline of May 2018 to defaulting parastatals in arrears of submission of audited accounts for two years and above, or have their 2018 budget withdrawn.
These were sequel to report submitted to that effect by the Chairman, Senate Public Accounts Committee, Matthew Urhoghide (PDP, Edo State). Urhoghide, in the report, pointed out that of the 491 agencies, only 47 fully complied by submitting their audited reports of 2017.
These, according to him, include; Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Abuja Property Development Company, Citizenship and Leadership Training Centre, National Law Reform Commission, National Agricultural Seeds Council, and National Open University, University of Abuja among others.
In all, Urhoghide revealed that 444 agencies were yet to comply. Giving a breakdown of the defaulters, he gave the number of agencies yet to submit their reports since inception as 85, those in arrears from 11 years and above – four; agencies yet to comply between six and 10 years – 17; those in arrears between three and five years -103; and those in arrears between one and two years – 235. The report also listed some of the agencies yet to submit their reports since inception to include: Bank of Industry (BoI), Bank of Agriculture (BoA), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), FCT Internal Revenue Service, FCT Universal Basic Education Board, Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria, Abuja Infrastructural Investment Centre, National Automotive Council among others. ..Passes NFIA Bill Meanwhile, the upper chamber, yesterday, finally passed the bill seeking to establish the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency (NFIA) as an autonomous body. This followed adoption of the harmonised report of the conference committee on the Bill. The Bill removes the NFIA, domiciled as a Unit under the EFCC, and places it under the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
It seeks to grant financial and operational autonomy to the agency and empowers it as the central body in Nigeria to be responsible for “requesting, receiving, analysing and disseminating financial and other information to all law enforcement and security agencies and other relevant authorities.”
The Bill was earlier passed by the House of Representatives on Tuesday. It would be recalled that the EGMONT group, which is a global network of 154 Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs), had earlier suspended Nigeria at its last general meeting in July 2017, with a threat to expel the country if the Unit was not been given autonomy by its next meeting scheduled from March 11 to 16, 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
If expelled, the country will suffer a blacklist in the global finance sector and Nigerian banks will be unable to issueMastercard and Visa credit/debit cards, while card transactions with Nigerian originated cards will be blocked. This means Nigerians will be unable to carry out foreign transactions. Speaking after the Bill’s passage, Senate President Bukola Saraki, who presided over plenary, said the enactment of the Bill will facilitate the country’s readmission into the EGMONT group. He said when signed into law, it would also help the country in the fight against corruption.
The Senate President urged the President to immediately sign the Bill into law to prevent Nigeria’s expulsion from the group. “I hope that with this Bill that we have passed today, they will have a second view and re-admit us (Nigeria) into the process (EGMONT Group). “I hope on the part of the Executive, they will quickly assent to this Bill and also ensure that the independence of the Financial Unit goes beyond just signing this Bill into law.
“It is important that we see it being practiced. This is very important. I hope on their part, this will be done so that our country stays as part of the EGMONT Group that has a lot of benefits for our fight against corruption,” he said.