The country’s Auditor General has uncovered a mind-boggling fraud of N24.3bn in 17 Nigerian ministries.
The Auditor-General’s 2015 annual report, indicted the said federal ministries for failing to account for the sum of N24.3 billion.
The report revealed that the infractions were perpetrated by top government officials between January and December 31, 2015.
Daily Trust reveals that report showed that Ministry of Power, Works and Housing top the chat with N9.2billion; Aviation – N702 million; Water Resources – N3.4 billion; Foreign Affairs – N4.4 million; Labour and Employment – N84.7 million and Information and Culture N561.6 million.
Others are Ministry of Petroleum Resources – N1.7 billion; Women Affairs – N20 million; Solid Minerals Development – N37.6 million; Transport -N87.8 million; Environment – N86.5 million and Niger Delta Affairs – N1.9 billion.
Ministry of Defence – N2.692bn; defunct Ministry of Police Affairs – N1.839bn; Youths and Sports Development – N1.144bn; Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment – N1.076.bn, and the Ministry of Finance – N22.103m.
The report submitted to the National Assembly has since been assigned to the Senate Committee on Public Accounts for further action.
In the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing the report showed that the amount standing against Works sector is N1.2 billion; Power N7.3 billion and Housing N723 million.
In the power sector, the report stated that the sum of N7billion was received by the Ministry in January 2015 as shown in the accounts.
“This fund was spread into four commercial banks under the account name Hydropower Transmission Project. The budget for 2015 was not yet passed as at the time this money was received by the Ministry in January 2015 while the account for the year 2014 was already closed as 31st, 2014,” the report stated.
It also observed that there was no evidence that such money was budgeted for the Hydropower Transmission Project in either 2014 or 2015 fiscal year of the Ministry Appropriation Act.
Another expenditure amounting to N246 million was also queried in the power sector. The money was paid to some staff of the Ministry as ‘advanced’.
During the Audit of the Ministry, the retirement vouchers and the details of retirement were not forwarded for examination despite several demands.
“Having exceeded the various time limits stipulated in the financial regulations, N246million should be recovered from the officers immediately, forwarding recovery particulars for verification,” the report said.
N1.2bn unaccounted in Works
The report said the contractor handling the 18km Manyam-Ushonog-lessel-Kantyo-Oju-Agile-Ongba road in Benue state abandoned the project after collecting N155million. The Auditor-General demanded for the refund of N 124 million.
It also demanded for the refund of N218 million being part of the money paid the contractor handling Yashi-Duguri-Yalo road in Bauchi state.
The Auditor-General ordered that a total of N902 be refunded to the Federation account by five contractors that collected the money but have abandoned sites.
N104m staff advances not paid
In the Housing sector of the Ministry, the Auditor-General report stated that advance ledger revealed that various advances granted to staff totalling N104million were overdue for retirement as at 31st December, 2015.
“Multiple advances were granted to some staff without retiring the previous ones. The unretired advances should be recovered from the officers’ emoluments en-bloc forwarding recovery particulars for verification,” the report said.
The Auditor-General queried the Ministry of Aviation for spending N427 million on the procurement of Navigational Aids/spare parts and maintenance services without approval.
“Scrutiny of the capital appropriation document revealed a zero budget allocation for the purchase of Air Navigation equipment with code number 23010131. This constituted a gross violation and distortion of the Appropriation Act,” the report said.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry has been requested to furnish the Auditor-General with the statutory financial instrument of the National Assembly authorizing the expenditure.
In addition, the responsible officials involved in the authorization and disbursement of the fund should be held liable for lack of due diligence, “it said.
The Auditor-General observed that 51 recurrent expenditure account items, mainly local and international travels amounting to N147million were inappropriately charged to the Capital Development Account of the Ministry of Aviation.
“The Permanent Secretary has been asked to explain the circumstances that warranted the Ministry’s misapplication of capital development fund for expenditure which appears at variance with the Appropriation Act and extant.” It directed that the amounts involved should be recovered and recovery particulars forwarded to the Auditor-General for verification.
In the Ministry of Petroleum Resources 39 vouchers amounting to N535.6million for recurrent and capital expenditures were hidden and not produced for audit examination during the time of audit exercise despite numerous demands.
“In view of this, I find it difficult to accept these expenditures as proper and legitimate charges against public funds, “ the Auditor-General asserted.
At the Ministry of Water Resources, the Auditor-General observed that a contract for the Adaba River Dam project in Enugu was awarded at N2.5 billion with a completion period 24 months.
The report stated that the total payment for the contract from 2010 to 2015 amounted to N488.7 million.
“This is a clear indication that no serious funding arrangement was put in place for this project. The permanent Secretary has been requested to explain what became of the sum of N827 million earmarked for the project in 2010 as contained in the Council memo,” the report said
The contract for the construction of Ibusa small earth Dam in Delta State awarded at N914 million was also queried.
An analysis of the payment made so far to the contractor revealed that as at December 2015, only N75million has been paid out of the N137 million mobilisation fee.
At the Niger Delta Affairs Ministry, the report said a sample of schedules for deduction of withholding and Value Added Tax of N1.8billion was generated during the period under review but that the supporting receipts of remittance from Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) amounted to N144 million.
“The difference of N1.7 billion represents withholding and VAT generated but not supported with evidence of remittance from the FIRS. The Permanent Secretary has been requested to produce relevant remittance receipts from FIRS verification.
“The above observations have been communicated to the Permanent Secretary on August29, 2016 and his response is still being awaited.”
The report said that in the ministry of defence, the sum of N1bn, being the overhead cost transferred to the Chief of Naval Staff for the first quarter of 2015, “could not be traced into the vote book, cashbook and bank statement of the ministry.
The entry of this amount into the above mentioned books of accounts will make it easier to reconcile it with the monthly returns of expenditure rendered by the Nigeria Navy, showing expenditure, liabilities incurred and balance available, as stated in the Financial Regulation 406,” the report said.
The report said the permanent secretary in the ministry was informed about the anomalies on October 2, 2015 and that responses were still being awaited despite a reminder dated July 8, 2016.
As for the defunct ministry of police affairs, the report said vouchers for the sum of N698.532m were raised and paid to various contractors for the procurement of different types of vehicles, 92 stand-alone solar street lights and other services between April and July, 2015.
“Further audit scrutiny of the payment vouchers revealed that relevant supporting documents were not attached for audit examination.”
The report indicated further that payments amounting to N718.911m were made to 11 corporate bodies for different services rendered, but that “surprisingly, no further documents regarding this payment were produced for audit review despite repeated request, contrary to Financial Regulation 110.”
Youths and sports development
In the ministry of youths and sports development, under the National Sports Commission, the Auditor General’s report said payment vouchers for different sums amounting to N497.999m “were hidden and not presented for audit verification.
“This violates Financial Regulation 110 and Section 85 (2) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, which gives my office free access to all books of account and other related documents,” the Auditor General said.
The Auditor General’s report further indicated that the sums of N424.808m and N403.647m were generated as revenue in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
However, the report said,” the accounting records maintained by the finance and account department of the ministry reported N435.495m and N396.734m as the revenue generated in 2014 and 2015 respectively, resulting to overstated revenue of N10.687m in 2014 and understated revenue of N6.912m in 2015.”
In the case of the federal ministry of finance, the report said the sum of N16.858m cash advances granted to some staff of the ministry in October and December of 2015 were not retired, contrary to Financial Regulation 420.
The report said that the attention of all the permanent secretaries in the affected ministries above was drawn to the queries against their ministries, but that their responses were still awaited about two years after.