Nigerian Senate flays Auditor-General over audited reports

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

The Nigerian Senate has criticised the Auditor- General of the Federation, Mr. Samuel Ukura for gross negligence on audited annual reports of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the federal government from 2009 to 2014.

It consequently ordered the Auditor- General to issue clearance certificates to government agencies whose annual audited reports have been cleared so as to properly guide members of the public.

The Auditor – General incurred the wrath of the Senate during a probe session carried out by the committee on Public Accounts where Heads of MDAs were interrogated over the annual reports of their audited accounts from 2009 to 2014.

While the Auditor- General’s reports on the MDAs forwarded to the senate, indicted many of the agencies for non submission of their annual audited reports from 2009 to 2014, the agencies countered the claim by submitting the reports with documented evidence.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in particular, debunked the claim made in the report of the Auditor- General, that it did not make available its audited reports of 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.

The apex bank however, declared that its audited reports for the years listed, had long been submitted to the office of the Auditor- General based on queries raised to that effect.

CBN’s Deputy Governor in charge of Operations, Bayo Adelabu who represented the Governor, told the committee that in line with section 65 (3d) of the 1999 constitution as amended and Act of parliament of 2007, the apex bank submits its annual reports of any previous year on February 28 of every year.

According to him, “the claim made in the report of the Auditor- General as regards annual report of CBN from 2010 to 2014, is false as the apex bank had submitted all the reports up to 2014 based on queries issued by the Auditor- General’s office.”

Aside CBN, other agencies of government like the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Nigerian Ports Authority, and Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) also debunked claims made by the Auditor- General against them on non submission of annual reports between 2009 and 2014.

Responding to the committee’s question on why the agencies were indicted for non- compliance, the Auditor- General, who was represented by a Director in his office, Mr. Isaac Olurotimi Dada, said reports forwarded to the senate on annual reports of the various government agencies were based on available documents on findings made.

Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Senator Andy Uba, and indeed other members, frowned at the response which they declared unsatisfactory.

“Your boss who is fond of declaring on the Television or Radio that his office had completed audited work on annual reports of the MDAs and always alleging that it is the National Assembly that is not working on such reports, is not here today for the needed harmonisation of these conflicting reports and even you that is here, is not competent going by your responses so far.”

Senator Uba further declared that “for the needed harmonisation to be seen to have been done on the conflicting reports, the Auditor- General should issue clearance certificate to agencies whose annual reports have been cleared up to 2014 before the next meeting with the committee.”

A member of the committee, Senator Akpan Bassey ( PDP Akwa – Ibom North East), accused the Auditor – General of avoiding the meeting because of what he described as “Wishy-washy” reports earlier forwarded to the senate on annual reports of the agencies.

“Going by what has unfolded itself here today, as far as this committee is concerned, the Auditor- General deliberately ran away and not because of any other important engagement elsewhere”, he said.

The Senate committee on procurement also held a public hearing on Thursday as part of the process to amending the Public Procurement Act 2007.