Nigeria: How National Assembly Barred Auditors From Verifying ₦1.36 Billion Capital Spending - Audit Report

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28 December 2019

The verification of ₦1.36 billion worth of capital spending by the National Assembly was unsuccessful as auditors were reportedly denied access to financial records, an audit report has revealed.

The said unaudited amount was found in the account of the Senate.

This is contained in the Auditor-General's annual report of the accounts of the Federation of Nigeria for 2017. The report was transmitted to the Clerk of the National Assembly in July, and was signed by the nation's Auditor-General, Anthony Ayine.

The report says the implication of this unaudited amount is that public funds may be diverted for unappropriated purposes and value for money not ascertained from these expenditures.

"Management response of the store being under renovation at the time of audit is not acceptable; hence, I cannot accept this expenditure as a valid charge against public funds," Mr Ayine wrote in the report while asking the Clerk of the National Assembly to account for the unaudited funds.

Also, the report claims that National Assembly Management Accounts failed to produce, for audit, receipts of the spending of ₦235.7 million within April - June, 2017, and another ₦437.3 million from July to October, 2017.

With a total of ₦673.1 million 'likely mismanaged', it is difficult to certify such payment as legitimate charges on public funds, the report adds.

Mr Ayine requested that the unaccounted fund be recovered by the Clerk of the National Assembly, and paid back to the treasury with evidence of refund forwarded to his office.

House of Representatives

In the review of the accounts of the House of Representatives, it said there was over-withdrawal of a total of ₦95.2 million. Not only was this done without due process as required by extant rules, the audit shows that expenditure documents relating to the use of the funds were not provided.

Worried that this manner of unauthorised cashing out of public funds might lead to their misappropriation, the Auditor-General, thus, compelled the Clerk of the National Assembly to recoup the unaccounted ₦95.2 million back into the treasury account while also providing evidence of doing to so to his office.

"Misappropriation of Funds"

Another institution under the National Assembly fingered for alleged mismanagement of funds is the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies.

The report alleges that a sum of ₦67.2 million was made to payees "other than the payees specified in the audited receipts".

This is contrary to the provision of section 613 of the Financial Regulation which stipulates that "payments shall be made only to the persons named in the vouchers or their properly authorized representatives," the report reads.

The Institute's Director-General was, therefore, urged to recover and refund into the treasury the sum of ₦67.2 million with evidence of recovery forwarded to the Auditor-General's office.

This aside, the report further shows that the Institute failed to deduct statutory Value Added Taxes (VAT) and Withholding Taxes (WHT) in the tune of ₦2.2 million from the contract of goods and services.

This, it says, violates the Financial Regulation 234(I) which states that "It is mandatory for Accounting Officers to ensure full compliance with the dual roles of making provision for the VAT and WHT due on supply and services contract and actual remittance of same."

Again, the Director-General was tasked to provide evidence of remittance of the unaccounted fund into the treasury to the Auditor-General's office.

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