According to a report by Daily Trust, the office of the Auditor-General for the Federation (AuGF) in its 2019 Annual Audit Report has indicted the management of the National Assembly over how the spending of funds running into billions of naira.
The AuGF, Aghughu Adolphus, in the audit noted that over N8.5 billion from the funds released to the National Assembly were expended within the period under review without evidence, Daily Trust reports.
The report said the monies under scrutiny were not backed by vouchers and retirement documents.
The report, submitted to the Clerk to the National Assembly in August this year, uncovered various infractions by the Senate, House of Representatives, and the National Assembly Service Commission. The audit report is usually submitted to the National Assembly Public Accounts committees for investigation.
The Auditor General’s report raised seven queries against the Senate’s financial records on issues bordering on unaudited payment vouchers, non-remittance of Value-Added Tax (VAT) and withholding tax (WHT) and non-remittance of recovered vehicle loans, among others.
The alleged financial infraction, according to the report, amounted to over N3 billion.
It said the sum of N219.6 million and N123.3 million as housing and vehicle loans, respectively, were deducted from senators’ salary arrears between July and December 2019.
In another query, the audit report said N176.2 million was deducted as Pay As You Earn (PAYE) from staff salaries; Value Added Tax (VAT) of N39.7 million from payment for services and withholding Tax (WHT) of N237.6 million from payment for services.
It, however, said there was no evidence to show that these amounts were remitted to the treasury and relevant tax authorities as required by law.
The report also said the sum of N1.7 billion was paid between February and December 2019 for the supply of vehicles and other office equipment through 17 payment vouchers but none of them was made available for audit examination.
It also said the sum of N657.7 million was paid for the supply of motor vehicles, motorcycles and other office equipment through 16 payment vouchers between July and December 2019.
None of the payment vouchers, it said, was cleared by the Internal Audit before pay as required by extant regulations.
The sum of N423 million was paid for the supply of utility vehicles and production of the National Assembly logo between August and November 2019 from the capital account, the audit report showed.
It added that no relevant supporting documents were attached to the payment vouchers to facilitate the validation of the payment.
Regarding the House of Representatives, the Auditor-General uncovered how members spent over N5.5 billion at a different point in time which could not be accounted for.
According to the report, the expenditures ranged from running costs of some lawmakers to repairs and maintenance.
The report equally revealed that payments were made from salary accounts of the House of Representatives without payment vouchers as required by law.
The Auditor-General issued five queries to the Clerk to the National Assembly on infractions bordering on the utilisation of funds running into billions of naira.
In issue 1, the audit report observed the sum of N2,550,000,000 was granted to members as running costs between July and December 2019, but that there was no evidence to show what the funds were used for as there were no retirement documents despite requests.
According to the report, the said payments were made on a regional basis thus; North East – N187 million, South-South – N272 million and South East – N442 million.
Others are North Central – N391 million, South West – N629 million and North West – N629 million.
“There was no evidence to show what the funds were used for and 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,” the report read.
The audit report directed the Clerk to the National Assembly to give reasons why running costs granted to members were not retired.
In the second issue, the report queried the Clerk over the non-retirement of N258 million, which was granted as advances to 59 staff members in the lower chamber of the National Assembly.
It also said that additional advances were granted to officers when they had not retired the previous ones.
The Auditor-General in the third issue queried cash advances amounting to N107.9 million granted for repairs and maintenance of unspecified quarters beyond the statutory limit.
It queried the granting of advances in excesses of N200,000 stipulated by extant laws and directed the Clerk to justify the action.
The report in its issue 4, queried the remittance of N1.5 billion without acknowledgement as required by extant laws.
The audit report also revealed that another N1.01 billion was discovered to have been paid from a salary account. The payments were made without the preparation of payment vouchers as required by extant regulations.
According to the report, this violates Paragraph 601 of the Financial Regulations, which says “All payment entries in the cash book/ account shall be vouched for on one of the prescribed treasury forms.
Similarly, the audit report queried the National Assembly Service Commission on issues related to unretired cash advances and non-remittance of 1% stamp duty on contracts, to the tune of N33.6 million.
It said the sum of N31.9 million was granted as personal cash advances to fifty-nine (59) staff and that there was no evidence of the retirement of the advances.
It also observed that N276.7 million from 12 payment vouchers was made to contractors and service providers from the project account of the Commission. It, however, said N2.7 million representing 1% Stamp Duties was not deducted.
Reacting, spokesman of the Clerk to the National Assembly (CNA), Austen Adesoro, told Daily Trust that the report was based on 2019 findings and that most of the issues had been taken care of.