The House of Representatives is expected to consider the report of its Committee on Public Accounts chaired by Hon Busayo Oluwole Oke, (PDP-Osun) which recommended various sanctions and prosecution of serving and retired chief executive officers of public institutions over allegations bordering on breach of financial regulations and 1999 Constitution (as amended) between 2014 and 2018, on resumption from its two month recess.
According to the House of Representatives’ resolution, the Committee was mandated to investigate the allegation on the deliberate and reckless refusal by non treasury funded Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to remit audited accounts covering 2014 – 2018 to the Auditor General of the Federation.
According to the report laid by the Committee which was scheduled to be considered before the House embarked on the annual two month recess, “the purpose of this investigation is not for the House to usurp the constitutional powers vested on the Auditor General of the Federation of vetting and commenting on the audited accounts of these agencies of government as enshrined in Section 85(3)(b) of the 1999 Nigeria Constitution , as amended, but is meant to unravel the reasons for such gross misconduct by defaulted agencies and to enforce compliance.
“To identify the Chief Executive Officers of these agencies, whether in active service or retired, found to have violated the provisions of section 85(2)(3) and (4) of 1999 Nigeria Constitution and hold them liable for their actions.
“To determine the procurement process of engagement of the External Auditors by these Non-Treasury Funded Agencies and whether they made up their professional ethics in turning in their reports for prompt remission to the Auditor General Office as at when due.
“To ascertain level of compliance by respective agencies in rendition of their reports in line with Constitutional provision, and see whether there are existing encumbrances anywhere which perhaps delays or bars such agency to remit its audited accounts to the Office of the Auditor General.
“To find out whether there are professional negligence on the part of external auditors or board of agencies or Bureau of Public Procurement in the procurement processes on engagement of external auditors or the Office of the Auditor General for the Federation.
“To see that the House names and shames (bring to book) any agency of government found to have refused to be audited or refused to render such audited account to the Auditor General for his vetting and comments as at when due so that henceforth, no appropriation will be approved for such Agency of Government by the National Assembly from the Consolidated Revenue Funds of the Federation.”
Worried by the level of infractions and non-compliance with extant financial regulations, the committee urged the House to direct all MDAs to submit their audited account on or before 31st of May every year.
The lawmakers also underscored the need for the Board or Governing Council of various agencies and other public institutions to convene meeting with a view to signing audited accounts immediately it is submitted by the External Auditors.
However, in the absence of a Board or Governing Council, the supervising body of the MDAs should sign audited accounts in order to avoid delay in rendition to the Office of the Auditor-General.
In the bid to ensure compliance with extant financial regulations, the Committee proposed that: “No out-going CEO should exit office without duly completing the process of audited accounts, signed and rendered to the Office of the Auditor-General.”
Worried by the observed lacuna in the provisions in some of the Establishment Act of some MDAs, the Committee posited that: “Under no circumstance should a provision of MDA’s Act be contrary to the provision of Section 85, 88 and 89 of the Constitution. The section 85 of the Constitution and the Audit Circular mandate MDAs to submit their audited accounts to the Office of the Auditor-General.”
The Committee also underlined the need for the “Executive Arm of Government should compel MDAs to respect and honour invitations by the legislative Arm of Government.”
Specifically, the Committee in its report on Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NAMASA), accused its management of “reckless and deliberate refusal by the Management of the Agency to render their audited accounts for the past five years (2005 – 2019) is a violation of Section 85 (3) (b) of the 1999 Constitution,” hence recommended that: “All those in office that were responsible should be disciplined and referral to the EFCC in line with Financial Regulation 3129 of 2009.”
In its report on Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Committee stressed the need to caution FAAN management to desist from late rendition of their audited accounts to the Auditor General Office.
In its report on Nigeria Bulk Electricity Transmission (NBET), the Committee recommended that the “Managing Director and the officers involved should be sanctioned accordingly for flagrant violation of Section 85 (3) (b) of the Constitution for not submitting the Agency’s audited accounts to the Auditor General for the Federation from 2012 to 2019.
The Committee also accused Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) of failing to render its audited accounts from year 2014 – 2018, hence proposed that: “All officers of the Commission involved for the non-compliance should be sanctioned accordingly.”
In its report on Petroleum Equalization Management Board, the Committee observed that the Board could not submit its 2017 and 2018 audited accounts while in year 2020.
While noting that this Act infringes on Section 85 (3b) of the Constitution, the Committee recommended that: “All officers involved should be sanctioned in line with FR 3129.”
In its report on National Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), the Committee frowned at the worrisome attitude of the Agency for refusing to render its audited accounts for the last 13 years, yet benefited from the Federal Treasury.
To this end, the Committee proposed that: “All the Director-Generals and DFAs as well as the various External Auditors from 2006 to 2019 should be handed over to the EFCC in line with FR No. 3129 for prosecution accordingly.”
In its report on Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), the Committee recommended that: “All the former MDs, DFAs and External Audited from 2013 to 2018 that are involved in the non-rendition of audited accounts should be handed over to the EFFCC and sanctioned accordingly.”
On the Federal Housing Authority ,(FHA), the Committee observed that the Authority submitted audited accounts last in 2003 but “could not provide proof for the rendition of 2014 audited accounts. This act negates Section 85 (3) (6) of the Constitution. Therefore, all former MDAs, DFAs and External Auditors should be handed over to the EFCC and sanctioned accordingly.”
After conducting investigative hearing on Nigeria Integrated Water Resources, the Committee observed that the Agency could not tender documents on rendition of audited accounts since its inception in 2009, hence recommended that: “All former DGs, DFAs as well as the present Ag. DG should be sanctioned. The EFCC should prosecute all found responsible in accordance with the law.”
In its report, the committee recommended that the former Vice Chancellor, former Bursar and the present Vice Chancellor of Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, “should be sanctioned and handed over to the EFCC for non-rendition of 2016 – 2018 audited accounts”, and called for sanction of the Vice Chancellor and Bursar of Federal University of Technology Owerri, for the delay in rendition of 2011 – 2014 and for non-rendition of 2016 – 2018.
Similarly, the Committee recommended that the former Vice Chancellor, former Bursars, present Vice Chancellor and his Bursar of University of Calabar “should be sanctioned and handed over to the EFCC for non-rendition of audited accounts to the Office of the Auditor General from 2012 to 2018.”
In its report on Nigeria Communication Satellite (NigComSat), the lawmakers recommended that the Managing Director and DFA of the Agency “should be sanctioned and handed over to the EFCC for non-rendition of 2014 – 2016 audited accounts.”
In the same vein, the Committee further recommended that the former Director General and DFA as well as the present Director General and DFA of Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) “should be sanctioned and handed over to the EFCC for non-rendition of 2015 – 2018 audited accounts to the Office of the Auditor General.”
In its report on National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), the Committee recommended that all officers responsible for the non-rendition of 2014 – 2018 audited accounts of the agency should be sanctioned in line with FR 3129.
In its report on Nigeria Customs Service, the Committee frowned at the refusal of Nigeria Customs Service to provide all copies of their correspondences to BPE (Bureau of Public Enterprises) for clarification.
“Up to the time of writing this report, the service has not complied with the directive. The Custom Service should therefore be warned to desist from disrespecting the rulings of the House Committees. And appropriate disciplinary measures be taken against them in order to curb future disrespect to the Parliament.”
In its report on Abuja Investment Company, the Committee observed that the Agency has no record of rendition except for 2014 which was rendered to the Office of the Auditor-General in 2020. All former MDs, former DFAs, and the present MD and his DFA should be sanctioned and handed over to the EFCC for prosecution in line with the extant law.
In its report on Oil & Gas Free Zone Authority, Onne, River State, the Committee observed that all renditions from 2014 to 2017 were done in 2020, adding that: “It took the Company six years to submit 2014 audited accounts. This is a constitutional breach and gross misconduct. All those responsible for the delay in remission of the audited accounts, as at when due, should be sanctioned in line with FR 3129. And they should be handed over to the EFCC.
According to the report, Administrative Staff College, Badagry, Lagos State “never rendered any audited accounts to the Office of the Auditor General from 2012 to date.”
Hence, the Committee recommended that the former Director General of the College, the former External Auditors, the Chairman and Members of the Board should be sanctioned in line with FR No. 3129.
As part of its findings, the Committee disclosed that Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) has “never rendered its audited accounts to the Auditor General for the Federation since inception – 2013 to date.”
To this end, the Committee proposed that: “All those responsible should be sanctioned in line with Financial Regulation No. 3129.”
The Committee also recommended that 15 erring Institutions/Agencies should be warned and sanctioned for delay and for non-rendition of their audited accounts to the Auditor General Office respectively.
They are: Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency; University of Jos; University of Ilorin; Federal Medical Centre, Umualia; Federal University of Technology, Akure; Federal University, Gusau; Husseini Adamu Federal Polytechnic, Kazaure; Federal College of Education, Asaba; Federal College of Education, Obudu; University of Agriculture, Makurdi; Federal Teaching Hospital, Ado-Ekiti; Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja; National Medical Research, Lagos; Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo State and National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research, Idu, Abuja.
The Committee also stressed the need for the Chief Accounting Officers of the 54 government Agencies that refused appearance to defend their positions during the Public Hearing without any written reason, prominent among them are; Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), NDDC, Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission etc., should be issued warrant of arrest to compel their appearance to respond to the matter within a week in line with Section 89 (d) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended).