The House of Representatives on Wednesday resolved to probe the Salaries, Income and Wages Commission over the non-redition of its audited financial accounts to the office of the Auditor General of the Federation since its inception 28 years ago.
This was revealed at the ongoing investigative hearing into the activities of Ministries, Department and Agencies of the Federal Government as well as private outfits by the House of Representatives Public Accounts Committee , PAC being chaired by Hon Busayo Oluwole Oke (PDP-Osun).
The Auditor General of the Federation who was represented by Maryam Ibrahim had told the Committee that the office had no record of the audited account of the Commission when its Acting Chairman, Ekpo Nta appeared before it on Wednesday saying that “external auditors are supposed to audit them and we have no records of their audited accounts with us.”
He further explained that all the audited accounts of the Commission were domiciled at the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.
However, the Committee Chairman and other members expressed dismay with the discordant tunes between the Acting Chairman of the Commission and the representative of the Auditor-General on the matter and insisted to get to the root of the matter they described as gross violation of financial regulations of the Federal Government.
A member of the Committee, Bulus Maren (PDP, Platieau) pointed out that there was no way the Acting chairman that headed an anti-corruption agency would not know that non submission of audited accounts to the office of the Auditor-Genaral at end of every financial year has implications.
In his defence, Nta said that he had observed the anormaly when he assumed office in acting capacity and that when he inquired, he was informed that it was because they did not have enough staff in the place and also due to poor funding.
“Incidentally the Commission is audited 100 per cent by the office of the Auditor General and that of the Budget Office in collaboration with the Accountant General’s office and the audit department of the office of the SGF.
“We do not have external auditors. As a matter of fact, they used to post staff to audit the place until 2018. So all our rendition and processes are domiciled with the office of the Auditor General of the Federation”.
Consequently, the Committee ruled that the Secretary to the State Government, SGF, Head of Service of the Federation, Director General Budget Office, the Accountant General of the Federation, Auditor General and the Acting Chairman should appear before it within two weeks over the matter.
Oke pointed out that the Parliarment needed to understand what the law says about the Commission, stressing that the laws of the land should be respected as the Accountant General and the Auditor General always post their staff to the Commission .
“This is a very serious issue. If this agency has been mismanaged since 1993, it has come to an end today. So, what we will do is to invite the SGF, Head of Service, DG Budget, Accountant General of the Federation and Auditor General and the chairman so they come and understand what the law says about the organization and that law of the land should be respected.
“It then means that the Commission has never reported its financial dealings and if they did, the Auditor General should have copies because they are supposed to remit such information to the Auditor General. This is a very gross issue that we need to look at very carefully and do the needful.
“The Commission Act is an establishment of the parliament and section 9 sub-section 2 of the Act provides that the Commission shall keep proper accounts of its information in respect of which year and proper records in relation thereto and shall cause its accounts to be audited not later than six months after the end of each year by auditors appointed from the list of auditors not by the Auditor General himself”.