The National Assembly, Wednesday, passed the Federal Audit Service Bill which among others, prescribes a five-year jail term for any accounting officer, who prevents the Office of the Auditor General for the Federation from accessing their account books.
Passage of the bill by the Senate was in concurrence with the House of Representatives which had earlier passed the proposed legislation.
Senate Leader, Ibrahim Gobir (APC Sokoto East) led the debate for the concurrence which the red chamber approved at the committee of the Whole.
The Chairman, Senate Public Accounts Committee, Senator Matthew Urhoghide (PDP Edo South), told journalists that the Bill also passed in the 8th Senate but not assented to, seeks to strengthen the office of the Auditor General for the Federation.
He said the Office is supposed to check systemic corruption in Nigeria by checking all expenditure of the ministries, department and agencies of government as provided for by Section 85 of the Constitution.
He added that the Office of the Auditor General for the Federation should be independent of the executive arm of government by relating directly with the National Assembly.
The Second aspect of the bill according to him, is the establishment of the Federal Audit Commission to be able to recruit the proper staff, discipline and promotion.
“Audit is a very perculiar department but right now, we have those who did not study accounting being employed and working in the Audit House probably for political reasons.
“The Commission will be responsible for the recruitment of proper staff that would be able to audit the accounts of the over 797 federal agencies.
“The Country needs a proper workforce to be able to do that. The office of the Auditor General for the Federation was having over 3000 workforce but had reduced to 1200 staff now,” he said.
He added that the anti-graft agencies had practically taken over the job of the Auditor General for the Federation.
“The Forensic Audit that was set up for the Niger Delta Development Commission was a violation of the constitution. It the work of the Auditor General for the Federation.
“The first time we had audit ordinance was in 1956. We have now changed a law that has been in place for over 60 years.
“More powers have been given to the office of the Auditor General for the Federation.
“The least penalty that we have now in the bill for an individual is five year imprisonment or a fine of five million or both,” he explained.