By James Emejo in Abuja
The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts, has ordered the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HoS) and the Police Service Commission (PSC) to refund a total of N40million to the Federation Account over an alleged misappropriation of public funds and violation of financial regulations.
Specifically, the HoS is to return the sum of N28 million to the treasury for violating financial regulations while the Permanent Secretary in the PSC Mr. Istifanus Musa was ordered by the committee to pay back N12 million for not using such funds for the purposes for which they were appropriated.
Chairman of the committee, Hon. Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers) had ruled on the refunds based on a 2014 audit query raised by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation (AuGF).
The AuGF had queried the HoS seeking explanations as to why cash advances totalling N28 million was paid to civil servants to carry out various functions for the federal government and were not retired.
He said such advances that were not retired are assumed not to have been spent for such functions following lack of cooperation from the HoS to provide documents.
However, the Permanent Secretary of the Office of the HoS, Mr. Kola Ayodele said that “the cash advances could not be retired as and when due because of paucity of fundsâ€.
â€œBut we have retired all the advances except two that were not actually retired because the supposed beneficiaries didnâ€™t get the funds.”
Asked further if there was a time frame for such retirements, the Perm Sec disclosed that the time frame was actually two weeks.
Members therefore demanded to know why his office failed to respect the two weeks as all the retirement papers indicated different date schedules well above the stipulated time.
The PermSec at this point explained: â€œIn some cases, the cash advances are not retired within the time schedule and I have to apologise for the delay as I was not also the PermSec when the payments were madeâ€.
Chinda, however, upheld the query and cautioned MDAs against submitting retirement of cash advances late to the auditors.
He therefore directed the HoS to return the said amount back to the treasury having failed to properly retire it.
Also, the AuGF had stated the PSC spend monies on a workshop in 2014 without budgetary provisions.
Chinda noted that such actions breached constitutional provisions, particularly Section 80.
The violations bordered on how a workshop was conducted in Nasarawa in 2014 and payment of N12million was made in 2015 to the beneficiaries without appropriation in 2015.
He said: â€œIâ€™m of the opinion of the AuGF, it is a clear violation of the Financial Regulation, calling for refund of the funds into the nationâ€™s treasury.
However, the Permanent Secretary, PSC, Mr. Istifanus Musa, admitted that there were infractions, adding that, â€œwe made all the necessary documents available to the AuGF in 2015 because the releases in 2014 came late.
â€œI plead that the documents should be accepted as the training was conducted in November of 2014.”
Ruling on the issue, Chinda said: â€œItâ€™s glaring that the action violates Sections 80-81 which captures extra-budgetary expenditure.
â€œWe upheld the report of the AuGF that the sum of N12 million should be returned with a word of caution that MDAs should not unilaterally carry over expenditure.”