By Deji Elumoye
The Senate has summoned the Auditor-General of the Federation (AuGF), Mr Aghughu Arhotomhenia, over the non-audit of the financial records of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) in the last five years.
He is to appear before the Senate Committee on Finance next Tuesday to give reasons why he refused to give guidelines for the auditing of the accounts of the NIS since 2017 despite several reminder letters from the NIS to this effect.
The Chairman of the committee, Senator Solomon Adeola, gave the directive Thursday when the Controller General of Immigration, Mr. Mohammed Babandede, appeared before the committee investigating the remittances of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and 1% Stamp Duty on all contracts by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) into the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
In the course of the investigative hearing, the Chairman of the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC), Victor Muruako, had said that his agency had not received the audited accounts of NIS since 2017, contrary to the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 among other infractions.
Responding, Babandede explained that there had been no guidelines from the Auditor General’s Office despite repeated official requests from the NIS, adding that the unaudited accounts over the years had just been launched by the Minister of Interior.
He further disclosed that the revenue generating operations of the agency is under a public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement that he inherited with a sharing formulae agreement that cannot be readily renegotiated or cancelled in the foreseeable future, leaving the agency to remit only about 20% of revenue generated to the federal government.
Senator Adeola, at this point, directed the Immigration boss to furnish the committee with a comprehensive account of its revenue and the sharing in specific terms as well as details of the partners in the PPP deal as the committee intends to interact with the partners in the presence of NIS.
He said: “There is need to seriously interrogate the PPP arrangement and its duration as it seems to be an unending denial of needed revenue for Nigeria. A situation where partners collect 70%, leaving Immigration and federal government to share 30% over unending period of time is looking more like a pick pocket partnership arrangement for Nigeria that should be remedied.”
According to him, with the experience of Nigeria on PPP arrangement on the issue of passport and other immigration documents, there is need for the National Assembly to come up with legislation to guide and regulate such partnerships as the present ad hoc system is shortchanging the federal government.