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General News of Friday, 31 December 2021

Source: www.thisdaylive.com

AuGF indicts national assembly over N9.4bn unexplained expenditure

Auditor General for the Federation (AuGF), Adolphus Aghughu. Auditor General for the Federation (AuGF), Adolphus Aghughu.

The Office of the Auditor General for the Federation (AuGF) has indicted the management of the National Assembly and the National Assembly Service Commission for embarking on an unexplained expenditure amounting to N9.424 billion in the 2019 financial year.

The query which was contained in the AuGF’s annual report on non-compliance, internal control weaknesses issues in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the federal government, had about N5.521 billion of such expenditure credited to the House of Representatives in five different audit queries; N3.595 billion credited to the Senate in seven audit queries; while N307.676 million was credited to the National Assembly Service Commission in two audit queries.

The report with reference AuGF/AR.2019/02, addressed to the clerk of the National Assembly and dated September 15th, 2021, was signed by the AuGF, Adolphus Aghughu.

It stated that the sum of N2.550 billion was granted to members of the House of Representatives as running costs between July and December 2019, without evidence to show what the funds were used for, neither was the money retired.

It also stated that the sum of N258 million was given to 59 staff of the House, while another N107.912 million was given to two staff for repairs and maintenance of unspecified residential quarters, denying government the statutory Value Added Tax (VAT) and Withholding Tax (WHT) of 10,791,296 accruable if the work had been awarded to contractors.

The AuGF report also stated that the sum of N1,594,807,097.83 was paid to revenue authorities between February and December 2019, as PAYE (6 members), car Ioan (5 members) and Housing loan (6 members) without acknowledgement receipts from the relevant revenue authorities.

It also queried the payment of N1, 010,598,610.97 from the salary account of the House without payment vouchers as required by law, while asking it directed the Clerk of the National Assembly to provide explanation for the irregularities and ensured that the amount involved was returned to government treasury.

On the other hand, it indicted the National Assembly Service Commission for failure to retire about N31.927 million cash advance granted to 59 staff of the commission as well as failure to remit one per cent stamp duty amounting to N276, 749,014.68.

It said further that about N219.645 million deducted as housing loan from some Senators were not remitted.

The report stated: “The sum of 219,645,567.08 was deducted from one hundred and seven (107) Senators’ salary arrears between July and December 2019 as housing loans, and there was no evidence to show that the above amount was remitted to the treasury.

“The sum of N123.320 million and N176.267 million deducted from Senators salary arrears between July and December 2019 as vehicle loans and Pay As You Earn (PAYE) from staff salaries respectively were remitted to the appropriate authority. “The sum N277.411 deducted as VAT and WHT from services rendered were not remitted to the Federal Inland Revenue Services, while the office of the Clerk failed to present payment vouchers amounting to N1,718,130,630.24 for audit verification.

“N657.757 million was paid for the supply of vehicles and other office equipment in 16 payment vouchers that were not cleared by Internal Audit as required by law before such payments were made, while another N423.370 million was paid for the supply of utility vehicles and production of National Assembly Logo between August and November 2019 from the Capital account with no relevant document.”

The House Committee on Public Account has however summoned the Clerk of the National Assembly, Amos Ojo, to appear before the committee to respond to the audit queries.

Chairman of the Committee Hon. Wole Oke, had before the House went on the yuletide break, said the Clerk should appear before the committee to respond to the AuGF’s queries.

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