Leadership (Abuja)

Nigeria: Auditor-General Makes U-Turn, Appoints 20 Auditors to Probe NNPC Account

The Auditor General of the Federation (AuGF), Mr. Samuel Ukura, has disclosed that 20 auditors trained in oil and gas auditing from his office are currently working on the accounts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Ukura disclosed this yesterday when he appeared before the House of Representatives Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to defend the 2013 and 2014 budget proposal for his office.

A recent Senate resolution had called for the forensic audit of the NNPC's account to unravel the claims of $20 billion unremitted funds made by the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.

Also, the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) on Wednesday uncovered a fresh $22.8 billion "off balance sheet items" hidden from the financial records of the NNPC.

The Auditor General said, "We had a budget of N60 million for training and we were able to train 20 officers who are presently on the field auditing the accounts of NNPC."

But Ukura's statement before the House of Representatives is a u-turn from his position when he responded to a Freedom of Information (FOI) Act request by LEADERSHIP last month, for audited accounts of NNPC in the last five years.

The AuGF had admitted that his office was facing ethical and professional threats including shortcomings in carrying out its constitutional mandate of periodically checking and vetting the accounts of the NNPC and other government statutory organisations.

Meanwhile, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has informed the House that it is waiting for the forensic audit of the NNPC accounts, before it will commence investigation into the alleged unremitted funds.

The EFCC Chairman, Mr Ibrahim Lamorde, made this known in Abuja yesterday at the commission's 2014 budget defence before the Senate Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes.

Lamorde said investigations into the financial position of the NNPC were technical and required experts to conduct a comprehensive audit to unveil its true financial position.

On its own part, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) said that it lacks the capacity to investigate the NNPC account.

Acting chairman of the Commission, Olu Aina, said this yesterday when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Drugs and Narcotics Financial Crimes and Anti Corruption to defend the budget of his commission

According to him the account of NNPC is very complex and sophisticated and that the commission does not have the required technical expertise needed to probe the NNPC account. Aina said, "The account of NNPC is so sophisticated that it would require hiring financial experts to study it for needed investigation the cost of which, however, cannot be afforded by us due to underfunding."

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