The 101-page report of the Senate Commitee on Public Accounts, is full of tales of corruption from managements of the various Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) TAIYE ODEWALE reports.
In line with its constitutional mandate, the Senate Commitee on Public Accounts presented to the Senate on the 14th of last month, its findings and recommendations on several queries issued against various Federal Government-owned Ministries MDAs on alleged mismanagement of public funds.
The Commitee in the report adopted by the Senate submitted that hundreds of billions of naira were squandered by 59 agencies as contained in the queries issued to them by the Auditor General of the federation in 2015 Audit report and sustained by the committee after thorough investigations.
Some of the agencies, according to the Senator Mathew Urhoghide (PDP Edo South) led Commitee, are the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) alleged for non-remittance of N3.87trn from crude oil sales in 2015, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) alleged for non – recovery of N17billion taxes from defaulting firms, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), directed to refund the sum of $37,627,939.75million (USD) to the federal government coffers due to lack of diligence in the review of charges on a contract of Towage services aside other alleged financial infractions.
Others are Bureau of Public Enterprises ((BPE), for alleged financial infractions of about N8.7billion, the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources alleged for N1.1billion infractions out of which N14million was spent on biros purchase, N718.911million for unverifiable services, N46million for printing of letter-headed papers. N56million expended on toners, N23million spent on Sallah/Christmas packages for staffers of the Ministry and N243million for sensitisation and leaflets on Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) etc.
As contained in the report of the Committee, officials of some of the erring agencies, admitted queries on financial infractions issued against them by the office of Auditor General of the Federation.
In this category were officers from the Ministry of Petroleum Resources who admitted that the N23million spent for Sallah/Christmas packages in 2015, was forced on the management by Labour Union in the Ministry, their counterparts from FIRS, who submitted that the N17billion unrecovered taxes were due to change of office addresses of the defaulting agencies.p
Others who admitted financial infractions on their part were managements of Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET) who said that the N95.320million spent on overseas training for staff which never took place, was paid to company hired for the exercise before Presidential directive against it in February 2014, their counterparts from the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) who acknowledged that the alleged diversion of N2.5billion proceeds of PHCN from Access and FCMB banks to now liquidated Aso Savings and Loans, was for financing of Staff Housing Scheme, contrary to financial regulation 3205 etc .
Senate’s directives against the infractions.
Consequently, the Senate in kicking against the financial infractions as recommended by its Commitee on Public Accounts and directed that, on alleged non-remittance of N3.87trn from crude oil sales in 2015 by the NNPC and illegal revenue deduction of N865.44billion, called on the Corporation to desist from further deductions at source as this contravenes Section 162(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
It also mandated the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) or any other approving authority to, as a matter of urgency, approve agreed percentage which should be allocated to NNPC monthly as operational cost to ensure that their operations are not adversely affected.
It noted that the outstanding collection from Solid Minerals (N12,137,140,361.58) not remitted to the Federation Account, but kept in an account maintained by the Central Bank of Nigeria contravenes the provisions of Section 162(1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
The chamber, therefore, charged the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC), to fix a percentage to be allocated to Mining and Cadastral Office as cost of collection as is currently applicable to NCS (7 percent), DPR (4 percent) and FIRS (4 percent) of non-oil revenue.
The red chamber demanded the sanctioning of Accounting Officers of MDAs affected in various degrees of financial infractions in accordance with the provision of Rule 3124 of Financial Regulations.
It also gave the Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, a deadline of 60 days to identify and sanction officers responsible for mismanagement of public funds to the tune of N54,151,360,000 billion ($274,280,000.00) as exchange loss on external loans.
In addition, the Senate gave another 60 days timeline for the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation to set in motion the process of recovery of internal loans made from other funds which stands at N390,288,085,668.92 and to be paid back into the Special Funds Accounts.
The upper chamber also directed the Nigerian Ports Authority to refund the sum of $37,627,939.75million (USD) to the federal government coffers due to lack of diligence in the review of NPA’s charges on a contract of Towage services.
It also mandated the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to subject the Accounting Officer to investigation in accordance with Rule 3112 (I and II) of the Financial Regulations.
It also demanded that the Director-General who authorised the disbursement of contingency provision on the contract for the rehabilitation of Lagos Harbour moles to the tune of N417,099,309.06billion without Federal Executive Council approval to be reported to President Muhammadu Buhari in accordance with Rule 3103 of the Financial Regulations.
On other funds allegedly diverted by the NPA, the Senate demanded a refund of various sums in local and foreign currencies, consisting of N1,075,266,599.06, $2,301,329.54 (USD), and €196,257.42 (Euros) meant for the Presidential Implementation Committee on Marine Safety and Security (PICOMSS) to the account of the National Security Adviser to the o President, contrary to a directive approved by the Federal Executive Council on February 21, 2007.
It added that the non-remittance of another N67,508,041,250.00 for 2013 and 2014 into the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF), being 25 percent of its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) contravened the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007.
It further noted that the failure to remit capitalized interest to the Consolidated Revenue Fund totaling N99,712p,464.24 between 2013 and 2014 contravened Rule 236 of the Financial Regulations.
On financial infractions by the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the Senate called for the sanction of the Permanent Secretary in accordance with Rule 3129 of the Financial Regulations and Public Service Rules 030402 over the diversion of N23,642,000.00 from the Capital Projects Funds for purchase of Sallah/Christians welfare package to staff of the Ministry.
The upper chamber queried the sums of N46,645,000.00 and N56,418,135.00 for the printing of the Ministry’s letter-headed paper, and demanded that the sum be recovered and paid back to the treasury.
It also called for the identification of the Project Accountant who authorised the diversion of N32,783,052.00 meant for IPPIS training and other programmes to bank accounts of staff of Finance and Accounts Department, instead of paying the approved amounts to beneficiaries.
It demanded the refund of the amount to government coffers, including the sum of N718,911,848.00 made in the cashbook as payments to eleven corporate bodies without documentation.
In addition, the chamber called on the Ministry to identify and present for disciplinary action, the officers behind the authorisation of N98,400,000.00 in favour of a company for printing of leaflets for the Petroleum Industry Bill awareness campaign Programme; N54,000,000.00 to a company for assessment and documentation of Oil Spill sites in ten (10) states of the Niger Delta; and N25,000,000.00 for actualising e-governance procedure.
The infractions, the Senate noted, were in violation of Rule 3117. It, therefore, called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to prosecute within 30 days, the Officers in the Ministry of Youths and Sports (National Sports Commission) who certified the payment of N37,185,000.00 from the Capital Vote allocation.
It also directed that N2,695,985.00 be recovered from the emoluments of the Director-General of the Small Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN), who authorised that the sum be paid to individuals instead of a company’s account.
The Senate, accordingly, also demanded the prosecution of the Accounting Officer with SMEDAN who approved the sum of N38,038,238.14 without relevant and supporting documents in contravention to extant laws.
In meting further disciplinary actions, the chamber called on the EFCC to prosecute within thirty days, officers of the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading PLC (NBET), who were behind the non-remittance of accrued interest on investment in Nigeria Treasury Bills.
It also sought the prosecution of officers of the National Hospital, Abuja, and the Rural Electrification Agency within the same time frame, who were involved in the diversion of N20,915,998.00 and N14,086,246.00, respectively.
It requested the Medical Director of the Jos University Teaching Hospital to refund the sum of N26,321,041.01; and the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Aro, Abeokuta to pay back N19,382,047.50 to the Treasury and the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Abuja, to remit the sums of N3,716,805,388.00, N100,958,369.61, N374,734,768.46 and N161,336,427.80 to the CRF and Treasury.
For the Senate, its mandate on Investigation to expose corruption as provided for, by section 88 of the 1999 Constitution has been carried out, is now left for the relevant agencies saddled with prosecution of such exposures, particularly the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC), to swing into action.