THE Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation (oAuGF) 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.
About N5.521 billion of such expenditure was 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.
Other audit queries include: over N1.595 billion car loan, N2.250 billion paid as running cost to members of the House of Representatives without requisite documents as well as non-remittance of N1.718 billion Value Added Tax (VAT) and Withholding Tax (WHT) into Federal Government’s treasury as provided by extant financial regulations.
The audit queries were contained in the Auditor General of the Federation annual report on non-compliance/internal control weaknesses issues in ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria for the year ended December 31, 2019.
The report with reference AuGF/AR.2019/02, addressed to the Clerk to the National Assembly and dated September 15, 2021 was signed by the Auditor-General of the Federation, Mr Adolphus Aghughu.
The oAuGF in the report also queried the sum of N2.550 billion 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 said that the sum of N258 million was given to 59 members of staff of the House of Representatives, while another N107.912 million was given to two member of staff for repairs and maintenance of unspecified residential quarters, thereby denying government the statutory Value Added Tax (VAT) and Withholding Tax (WHT) to the tune of N10,791,296 that would have accured if the work had been awarded to contractors.
The AuGF report also queried the sum of N1,594,807,097.83 paid to revenue authorities between February and December 2019 as PAYE (six members), car Ioan (five members) and Housing loan (six members) without acknowledgment receipts from the relevant revenue authorities.
It also queried the payment of N1,010,598,610.97 from the salary account of the House of Representatives without payment vouchers as required by law, while asking the clerk to the National Assembly to provide explanation for the irregularities and ensured that the amount involved is returned to government treasury.
It indicted the National Assembly Service Commission for failure to retire about N31.927 million cash advance granted to 59 members of staff of the commission as well as failure to remit one percent 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.
It said “the sum of N219,645,567.08 was deducted from 107 senators’ salary arrears between July and December 2019 as housing loans, and there was no evidence to show that the amount was remitted to the Treasury.”
It also said that 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 OAuGF also queried the non-remittance of total sum N277.411 deducted as VAT and WHT from services rendered to the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), while the office of the clerk failed to present payment vouchers amounting to N1,718,130,630.24 for audit verification.
In the same vein, the report said 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 documents.
The House Committee on Public Account has, however, summoned the Clerk to the Nation Assembly, Amos Ojo, to appear before the committee to respond to the audit queries.
Chairman of the Committee, Honourable Wole Oke, said before the House went on Christmas break, the clerk should appear before the committee to respond to the auditor-general’s queries.
Reps Committees probes identities of contractors involved in N18.9b bush clearing contracts
The Public Account Committee of the House of Representatives, PAC on Wednesday, resolved to unmask the real identities of the owners of the companies which took contracts valued the sum of N18.9 billion from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for clearing of bushes, land preparation, rehabilitation of soil plant lab and others during the last COVID-19 lockdown of the country.
The resolution followed the appearance of representatives of two of the 20 affected companies at the resumed investigative hearing of the Committee on queries to Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs of the federal government by the Office of Auditor General of the Federation.
The affected companies are: Easy Construction Company LTD and NUKAAG VENTURES LTD respectively while the remaining 18 companies failed to show up.
The Committee being chaired by Hon Wole Oke (PDP-OSUN) said that the two representatives of the Companies (Johnson Philip and Taiwo Idowu), were of the Managerial cadre and as such not competent to appear before the Committee going by the Rules of the House.
Responding to a question posed by the Chairman of the Committee on whether they were familiar with the submission submitted to the Committee on the award and execution of the contractors so as not to mislead it, they both said no.
Consequently, the Committee directed the duo to leave immediately and directed that the Managing Directors or Chairmen of the companies should personally appear before it and speak to the submission before the Committee.
In addition, Hon Oke directed the Clerk of the Committee to write to the Registrar General of the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC to furnish the Committee, the detailed information of the affected 20 companies, including year of incorporation, Corporate offices, names of the owners, shareholders amongst others.
According to him, “we are not concerned about who won the contracts, what we are after is to deter value for money paid out and the sites of the projects, and we will carry that mission to the latter.
“The Clerk should also write the Federal Inland Revenue Services, FIRS, to furnish the Committee about the financial status of the companies.
Hon Oke assured that the Committee would carry out a diligent investigation into the matter as it was interested in finding out the location of the projects and the significance of such projects to the country.
Blackout looms as IKEDC stops operations
The Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company (IKEC) has announced a shutdown of operations following the issues between the National Union of Electricity Employees and the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TUC).
In a statement on Wednesday via its verified Twitter handle, @IkejaElectric, the Disco announced the shutdown of operations.
The statement read partly, “Due to the ongoing nationwide picketing of Transmission Stations by the NUEE, we are currently experiencing disruption of power supply as most stations within our network have been shut down.
“Kindly bear with us as we await an amicable resolution by the relevant stakeholders.”
Organised labour had on Tuesday directed workers in the power sector to shutdown and commence an indefinite strike over pending issues with the TCN.
The aggrieved workers under the aegis of the NUEE were at the Abuja national headquarters of the TCN Tuesday as a prelude to the proposed strike.
The union noted that the strike was in protest of a directive by the TCN Board mandating all PMs in acting capacity going to the Annual General Meeting to appear for promotional interviews.
In a circular titled, ‘Call to Action,’ which was addressed to senior assistant general secretaries and zonal organising secretaries, dated August 15, 2022, the General Secretary of the NUEE, Joe Ajaero, directed electricity workers to ensure total compliance, vowing to paralyse operations of the TCN nationwide over anti-masses activities.
Electricity workers’ strike throws South-East into blackout
Power distribution has been halted completely in the entire South-East States.
This follows the industrial action embarked upon by the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) at the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) power stations.
The development threw the five South-East States into a total blackout, Wednesday afternoon.
Emeka Ezeh, Head Corporate Communications, EEDC, confirmed that that operations across the franchise area of the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company PLC (EEDC) have been disrupted.
He said, “as a result of this development all our feeders are out of supply and this has affected supply to our esteemed customers in Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States.
“Consultations are ongoing among critical stakeholders in the power sector to address this issue and possibly restore supply.
“The Management of EEDC hereby encourage customers and neighbourhood associations to be vigilant and protect the electrical installations within their environment against elements who might take advantage of this outage to vandalise these installations.”
“We, therefore, appeal for continued patience and understanding while this is resolved,” he noted.
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