EFCC steps in as AGF leads recovery team
By Adetutu Folasade-Koyi
The Federal Government has discovered N450 billion unremitted funds to the Federation Accounts, following an audit of revenue-yielding agencies.
Subsequently, the Economic and Finacial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been called in to investigate agencies for not remitting the funds, as stipulated by law.
Revealing this yesterday, in Abuja, Finance Minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, specifically accused 33 agencies of not remitting operating surpluses from 2010 to 2015.
She said that government detected the non-remittance from an audit of the agencies, in compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007, adding that, a recovery committee headed by the Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, had been set up to recover the money from the agencies.
She listed some of the agencies affected to include the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
Others are the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Export-Import Bank, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN).
Also affected are the Nigerian Railway Corporation, West African Examinations Council (WAEC), Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and the National Hospital, Abuja among others.
The minister disclosed that some of the audit reports have already been sent to the EFCC.
“The financial regulations are very clear, where audit reports have indicted some of the officers, some of these audit reports are going to the EFCC. Some of the audit findings were so serious that the decision was taken that some of those particular reports must go to the EFCC.
“Remember that we are not a prosecuting agency, ours is to investigate and then we hand it over to the relevant agencies.”
The minister said that the agencies that defaulted had been asked to come up with their repayment proposals to see how they could be made to repay the money.
“We know that in some cases that money would have already been spent so they will now give us a proposal of how they are going to repay but the money has to be paid.
“We are also looking at their Treasury Single Account (TSA) to understand how much money they actually have because, in some cases, these surpluses are in their accounts. Our plan is not to grind to a halt, activities of any agency but to institute fiscal discipline in all the agencies,’’ she said.
The minister also said some federal agencies operate without approved budgets.
“We have the National Assembly’s support that if an agency does not have its budget approved; it really has no business spending. It is wrong for an agency to operate without a budget. It is public money and that means that the agency can do literally anything it wants and that is wrong.
She disclosed, however, that some of the agencies had started returning various sums, saying that N640 million had been received from the Nigeria Shippers Council.
“The total independent revenue generated between January and October, 2016, was N272.03 billion but, there is a projected increase to N811.03 billion, as we recover amounts owed.’’
She said the audit revealed that “there was under-reporting of revenues, failure to submit audited financial statements, payroll fraud and exaggeration of payroll costs, over-payment of staff salaries and abuse of personnel grants.”
The minister said while there was unapproved monetisation of medical and other allowances, there was also non-compliance with the PPA and failure to convert to IPSAS accounting.
IPSAS stands for International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). The audit, she said, “is an ongoing process and all agencies will eventually be audited.”