Passes Police Trust Fund Bill
Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The Senate has accused the Auditor General of the Federation, Mr. Anthony Ayine, of failing to submit the federal government’s audit report to the Senate since 2016.
This is coming as the lawmakers yesterday passed the Nigerian Police Trust Fund Bill, which will provide a legal framework for the management of special intervention funds for the police.
Responding to the allegations made last week by Ayine that no audit report submitted to the National Assembly since 1999 had been worked on by the lawmakers, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Mathew Urhoghide, said Ayine was yet to submit any audit report since he took over as AuGF in 2017.
He said the AuGF ought to have concluded work on 2018 audit report because the law states that report should be submitted six months into the new financial year.
“The much I know since I became the Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, about a year and half ago, is what I can say.
“When the Auditor General came for his budget defence, I told him that the fact that we have not conducted hearing on his queries does not mean that he should not bring audit reports.
“We have not received audit report for 2016. The Auditor General resumed office in 2017. Since he came, he has not submitted any audit report to the National Assembly. He is even supposed to be concluding works on 2018 because the law said that it must be submitted, six months into the new financial year.
“This is the fourth month. By the time we get to June end, he is expected to submit audit report for 2018. He doesn’t have the competent manpower to conduct audit,” the senator said.
Urhoghede noted that the major problem facing the office of the AuGF is incompetent manpower.
According to him, some of those who work in the office of the AuGF were those who have nothing to do with auditing.
Urhoghede insisted that the Public Accounts Committee was not created only to consider audit report and noted that in 2016, the committee discovered that N14 billion was removed from one federal fund meant for intervention in the states that were distressed and given to the Ministry of Defence.
He noted that although the AuGF queried the removal of the fund, he (Urhoghide) called the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence to draw his attention to it, “because it is an extra-budgetary allocation made to them.”
According to him, the removal of the N14 billion was apart from the N2.7 billion given to the Defence Ministry “behind the doors from the Service Wide Votes.”
The committee chairman who said “it is only Public Accounts Committee that can see all those things,” noted that the Permanent Secretary expressed surprise and said, “we didn’t form a new division in the army.”
Urhoghede shed more light on other tasks performed by his committee saying “Our committee is not set up to consider audit report alone. We have a lot of motions that we moved, we have submitted reports on status enquiries of those whose audited accounts have been submitted.
“We investigated and submitted reports on the subsidy issue, the $1billion euro-bond issue, withdrawals made from the Service Wide Vote from 2012 till date.
“If we have audit reports from 2015 till date, we would be able to establish a pattern. For instance in 2016, we saw that N14 billion was removed from one federal fund meant for intervention in states that were distressed and given to the Ministry of Defence.
Meanwhile, the Senate yesterday passed the Nigeria Police Trust Fund Bill which will provide a legal framework for the management of special intervention funds for the police.
The bill, which was presented by Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, for concurrence having earlier been passed by the House of Representatives, is to provide a legal framework for the management and control of the special intervention funds established under the Act for the training of personnel of the Nigeria Police Force.
The fund will also be utilised to enhance the skills of the personnel of the Police, in order to ensure their efficiency, overall performance, and constant improvement while they perform their duties.
The trust fund, among other functions, will be used to ensure that the Nigeria Police Force has the necessary operational equipment, instructional materials, police stations and living quarters.
Speaking after the passage of the bill, Saraki said: “by passing this bill, we will be creating big strides towards providing and improving security and the policing in our country.
“One of the major concerns has always been the issue of funding. We believe that this bill will provide the funding needed for training and recruitment. “I am confident that by the time we lay the report on the Police Reform Bill, we would have gone a long way in moving the police in the right direction.
“It is our view that once we have these Police Bills as laws, we will relieve the burden on the military, so that it can focus on its Constitutional responsibility,” the Senate President said.