By Temitope Ponle
The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts has summoned the management of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to appear before it on Feb. 25, to give reasons for its unaudited accounts.
Chairman of the committee, Rep. Wole Oke, who made the announcement during an investigative public hearing into the presentation of audit reports, said the agency should state its failure to submit the audited accounts to the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.
Oke said: “NIMASA has refused to cause appearance for six years and should appear unfailingly on Feb. 25, with the Minister of State for Transport and the Permanent Secretary.”
The lawmaker warned the agency’s management that the house would be forced to apply appropriate sanctions according to the law adding that the invitation would be the last.
Also, the committee chair directed that the committee interface with the Secretary-General of the Federation (SGF) to ensure the release of the audited accounts of Pension Commission (PENCOM) from 2014 to 2018.
“I saw that you have audited accounts but the issue now is that of rendition.
“We also need to engage the SGF on this; it is very big lacuna. Mr Clerk, please put it that the committee is to interface with the SGF and the management of PENCOM on this matter but for now, all accounts be remitted to the Auditor-General without further delay.”
Furthermore, according to the Auditor-General’s report, the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike submitted its audited accounts last in 2014.
Oke directed that the Mr Sabo Nanono, Minister, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the previous board members be summoned to a Status Inquiry.
This followed the claim of Prof. Ukpabi-Joseph Ukpabi, Executive Director NRCRI, who assumed duty in 2018, that the board had yet to approve the audited reports of 2015 and 2016.
Also, Auditor-General’s report on Lake Chad Research Institute showed that the institute last submitted its report for the year 2012 and submitted its 2013 till 2018 reports in Feb. 2020.
The chairman of the committee directed that a day be fixed for agencies under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development that have appeared to reappear with the minister.
“Agencies that have appeared, fix a day for the minister to appear with them and let people know what is happening to these agencies.
“We cannot continue to run the nation like this. We have get to the root of the matter. All the stakeholders must be invited,” he said.
The Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission also had a backlog of unremitted audit reports from 2013 to 2018, according to the Auditor-General’s records.
However, the Director-General of the council, Mrs Yewande Sadiku disagreed with the OAGF on the submission of its audited reports, stating evidence that all reports up to 2017 had been submitted but returned by the Auditor-General.
Sadiku explained that the audited report was submitted via a letter dated September 2019, but was returned by the Auditor-General who demanded that a soft copy of the report accompanied the submission.
According to the NIPC boss, the total income as per the audited accounts in 2014 was N5 billion; in 2013 was N2.5 billion; in 2015 was N1 billion; in 2016 was N1 billion; and in 2017 was over N900 million.
Oke, however, directed that a status inquiry be done for the previous managers of the council that were before Sadiku, who assumed in 2016.
“An agency could generate over N10 billion under the period in review. I do not want a situation where our children will round all of us up and start to shoot.
“A Status Inquiry order for the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment; the previous managers before Sadiku assumed office; the Director of Finance; Chief Accountant; Deputy Director of Finance; and Procurement officers should come.
“We will dedicate a day for public hearing on this; full scale investigation. We must bring those people who are responsible.”
Moreover, the Auditor-General’s report for the Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency, Lagos showed that it had outstanding reports from 2015 to 2018.
According to the agency’s Director of Finance, Mr Omotayo Ojo, the bill we get for commissioning external auditors ranges between N2 million and N2.5 million to audit a year book of account.
However, Oke said the agency failed to properly plan in line with the Procurement Act.
“Engagement of external auditors is part of your Needs Assessment which you would have captured under Section 18 of the Procurement Act.
“You ought to have conducted market survey and then determine what method of procurement you want to use to get an auditor. Your defence fails in the face of law.
“We need to really engage your agency. Our laws are very clear. You have violated the Procurement Act, the Financial Management Control Act; your agency has raped the constitution. Status Inquiry ordered,” he said. (NAN)