The House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the National Assembly, has failed to produce documents to prove how its members spent N2.5billion running costs paid to them for six months in 2019.
The Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation in its 2019 audit report, released in September 2021 and obtained by SaharaReporters, queried the Clerk of the house for failing to provide the documents and ordered it to refund the N2.5billion as there were risks of “diversion of public funds” by the lawmakers.
The audit report is titled, “Auditor-General for the Federation’s Annual Report on Non-Compliance/Internal Control Weaknesses Issues in Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria for the Year Ended 31st December, 2019.”
The OAUGF report stipulated that there should be sanctions for the Clerk of the House if the money unaccounted for was not remitted to the treasury of the Nigerian government.
The report partly read, “At the Federal House of Representatives of the National Assembly, the following observations were made: UNRETIRED RUNNING COST BY THE HONOURABLE MEMBERS (N2,550,000,000.00) Paragraph 1011(i) of the Financial Regulations states “All standing imprests must be retired on or before the 31st December of the financial year in which they are issued while Special Imprests shall be retired immediately the reasons for which they were granted cease to exist. Retirement will be effected by the production of vouchers and/or
cash for the full amount of the imprest.”
“Audit observed that: i. The sum of N2,550,000,000.00 was granted to Honorable members as running costs between July and December 2019 as shown below; North East, N187,000,000.00; South South, N272,000,000.00; South East, N442,000,000.00; North Central, N391,000,000.00; South West 629,000,000.00, and North West, N629,000,000.00.
“There was no evidence to show what the funds were used for, and iii. There were no retirement documents despite requests. The above anomalies could be attributed to weaknesses in the internal control system at the Federal House of Representatives of the National Assembly. Risks; i. Loss of Government funds. ii. Diversion of public funds.
“The management gave no response. Recommendations; The Clerk to the National Assembly is requested to furnish reasons why running costs granted to Honourable members were not
retired, recover unretired running costs of N2.5billion and remit to the Treasury; iii. Forward evidence of remittance to the Public Accounts Committees of the National Assembly, iv. Otherwise, apply sanctions relating to non-retirement of advances and imprest
specified in paragraph 3124 of the Financial Regulations.”
saharareporters, new york