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Audit Report indicts Nigeria’s Accountant General of allegedly failing to provide evidence for crucial transactions

The 2015 annual audit report on the Federation Account has indicted the office of Accountant General of the Federation, OAGF, over alleged delays that kept the submission behind schedule for several months.

But, the OAGF on Tuesday exonerated itself of any blame, saying all documents required for the audit were provided, despite having to work manually on the accounts of over 900 ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs.

The 656-page report signed by the Auditor-General for the Federation, AuGF, Anthony Ayine, and published last month, blamed the OAGF for the delay and some of the discrepancies in the accounts as a result of its refusal to provide vital documents required for the audit.

Of particular concern was the inability to provide records covering about N2.98 billion in the Integrated Payroll & Personnel Information, IPPIS, operation transaction accounts.

IPPIS is an IT-based system that captures the salaries and remunerations of the entire personnel on the federal government payroll.

Also affected was the account of the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System, GIFMIS, an IT-based system for budget management and accounting of all public expenditures.

The AuGF said in the report that the OAGF failed to produce for audit, vital documents needed to audit the IPPIS operations transactions account between January 1 and December 31, 2015.

“The Bank Statements, Cash Book, Mandates and Statement of Affairs of IPPIS Operation Transaction Account in CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria), were not provided for audit, in spite of repeated demands, except the last page of the bank statement showing the closing balance of N2,978,801,068.64 as at 31st December 2015,” the AuGF said in its final report.

“The inability to produce these documents, despite official requests vide the letters Reference No OAuGF/TAD/VOL.1/166 dated 16th August, 2016, and Reference No OAuGF/TAD/VOL.1/169 dated 25th August, 2016, has denied the audit team in forming opinion about the true position of the operation of the Account,’ he added.

PREMIUM TIMES learnt the report was published several months behind schedule due to several observed discrepancies in financial statements from the OAGF for the year.

Section 85(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) requires the AuGF to submit the Audit Report to the National Assembly within 90 days of the receipt of the Financial Statements from the Accountant-General of the Federation.

But, the AuGF said his office was constrained to submit the report several months later “due to delays in the submission of Financial Statements by the Accountant-General,” which he described as “a recurring matter.”

The AuGF said the submission from the OAGF were “returned to the Accountant General twice due to significant omissions observed”, before the resubmission on December 22, 2016, and finally on April 24, 2017.

Part of the observed omitted submission may have included details on the IPPIS operation transaction accounts, which the AuGF said the AGF should ensure were produced for audit.

Besides, further review of the financial statements showed that ‘only 29 of the 36’ Government Funds and Levy accounts recorded total inflows of N1.24 trillion during the year.

Seven accounts, namely for “Police Reward Fund”, “10% Cocoa Levy”, “Service Charge Pool”, “IMPL Committee on Federal Government Landed Property”, “Cheque Operational Account”, “Monetisation (Motor Vehicle)” and “Privatisation Proceed”, had no inflows throughout the year.

The report said no official explanation was also provided by the Office of the Accountant of the Federation on why the accounts had no inflows.

As at May 31, 2017, when the final part of the report was submitted to the National Assembly, Mr. Ayine said only 87 government agencies had complied with requests for the submission of their audited financial statements for the year.

Also, PREMIUM TIMES’ scrutiny of non-Federation Account revenue collection records by Nigeria Customs Service, NCS (N185.168 billion) and Special Accounts in the OAGF (N157.028 billion) revealed a net difference of N28.139 billion.

“The implication is that the revenue record of the Accountant General has been understated by the above amount,” the report stated.

The OAGF was said to have explained that the said accounts did not record inflows, as a result of the difference on the “cut-off between NCS and the CBN, which depended on the balances from apex bank’s statement.”

Similarly, the report noted several disparities between budgeted and actual expenditure figures in the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System, GIFMIS, and the financial statements.

While the GIFMIS report had an actual expenditure of N156.25 billion, the Financial Statement’s had only N19.663 billion, a massive difference of about N136.58 billion, the report said.

The OAGF GIFMIS report showed N147.28 billion as the 2015 appropriation, against about N119.515 billion for expenditures, a difference of more than N27.76 billion.

Describing the difference as “inconceivable,” the AuGF said the Accountant-General should “explain the inconsistencies, review and reconcile the figures in line with the 2015 Appropriation Act.”

When contacted, the AGF, Ahmed Idris, directed PREMIUM TIMES to the Director, Consolidated Accounts Department, CAD, in his office, Samson Arowojolu, for an explanation.

“All information requested for the purpose of the 2015 audit was submitted to the AuGF,” Mr. Arowojolu told PREMIUM TIMES in his office on Tuesday adding that the OAGF had done its work.

“All issues concerning the 2015 audit process have been concluded. Now, we are trying to complete the 2016 audit process. Immediately the final report was submitted to the National Assembly, it means the AuGF was satisfied with the submission from the OAGF.

“Thereafter, all questions on any aspect of the process would be directed to the Public Accounts Committee, PAC, in the National Assembly. For us, we have completed our work.”

Mr Arowojolu, who insisted all documents on the IPPIS account were submitted to the AuGF, showed PREMIUM TIMES’ the cover page of the delivery letter dated December 13, 2016 to the AuGF on the issue.

“If they said they were not satisfied with what was given, it would be a different matter. But, to say the documents were not given at all is not true,” he said.

The spokesperson in the OAuGF, Olawunmin Ogunmosunle, told PREMIUM TIMES on the telephone that getting specific details on the audit queries answered by the OAGF would be difficult.

“The queries are always addressed during the meeting of the Public Accounts Committee, which meets regularly to look at all issues raised in the audit report. Getting specific details of the responses by each MDA would be difficult,” Mrs Ogunmosunle said.

The two-part report covers the federal government’s financial statement for the financial year ended December 31, 2015.

Part 1 covered financial transactions, including losses of cash and store items as well as observations on accounting records of all ministries, extra-ministerial departments, offices and other agencies of the federal government for the year.

Part 2 contained audit observations on financial statements prepared and submitted by the OAGF in line with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.

Section 49(1) and (2) of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, FRA) 2007, and section 85(5) of the Constitution require the AGF to submit the Annual Financial Statements to the AuGF within 90 days following the end of each financial year.

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