2018 AuGF Report: SERAP Tasks National Assembly, Anti-corruption Agencies on Recovery of N105.7bn Unremitted Funds from MDAs

•Says Bank of Industry tops the list with N46.2bn

•Falana regrets attorney general denied him the fiat to recover billion dollars for FG

Dike Onwuamaeze and Gilbert Ekugbe

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has tasked anti-corruption agencies, Public Account Committees (PACs) of the National Assembly (NASS) and other oversight bodies in the country to ensure the recovery N105.7 billon unremitted revenues indicated in the 2018 Audited Report of the Auditor General of the Federation (AuGF).

SERAP also stated that the Bank of Industry (BoI) lead the class of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) that were accused of non-remittance of internally generated revenue into the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) in the 2018.

SERAP said: “The report of the AuGF for the Federation of Nigeria for 2018 revealed several weaknesses and lapses in the management of public funds and resources identified across various ministers, departments and agencies during the annual audit.

“In total, the sum of N105,760,058,919.43 worth of infractions were observed along six cross-cutting audit issues.

“Disaggregated outlook of these infractions showed that failure in remittance of revenue was responsible for N54.6 billion; irregularities in payments/expenditures – N18.3 billion; irregularities in contract award, execution and payments – N23.4 billion; store items not taken on store charge – N8.3 billion; unretired advances – N354 million and circumvention of procurement process – N371 million.”

These were disclosed yesterday in Ikeja, Lagos State, during the 2022 SERAP Report Presentation titled “Promoting Transparency and Accountability in Ministries, Departments and Agencies in Nigeria,” where SERAP called on the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) to ensure that revenue accruing to the federal government is duly remitted by government agencies to appropriate authorities.

The report stated further that “the auditor-general mentioned in his report that there was no improvement in the level of responses to audit observations by accounting officers of the MDAs.

“Although the PACs of the NASS stepped up effort to review audit reports and invite agencies of government to appear before them to defend queries raised by the auditor-general, it is not evident how much of the N105.7 billion not accounted for in 2018 have been recovered from indicted agencies and returned to public treasury.

“It is equally not clear whether what sanctions were placed to deter future abusers of public finance management process.”

The 2022 SERAP’s report observed that non-remittance of percentage of IGR into the CRF was responsible for 88.8 per cent of the N54.6 billion not remitted to government by different MDAs.

“Seventeen MDAs were identified not to have remitted percentage of IGR into the CRF valued at N48.5 billion.

“The Bank of Industry was responsible for 95.3 per cent (N46.2 billion) of the total unremitted funds followed by National Insurance Commission at 2.3 per cent (N1.05 billion),” SERAP said, adding that the “Financial Reporting Council failed to transfer its annual operating balance from commercial banks to the Treasury Single Account (TSA) valued at N750 million.”

The Chairman/Editor-in-Chief of SERAP Law Report, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), said during the presentation of the report that it is sad that Nigeria has failed to make money from those who were either bribing its officials or banks that have been keeping the country’s looted public funds.

Falana said: “Glencore paid the United States of America $1.8 billion for bribing some officials of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). We have not made a dime from that criminality.

“Halliburton paid United States’ government $579 million for bribing Nigerians in respect of LNG. Siemens paid the United States $1.3 billion for bribing Nigerians. I am challenging the National Assembly to get in touch with the Ministry of Justice. How can countries be making money because their officials came to commit a criminal offence in Nigeria and Nigeria is not making anything?

“We once wrote to the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to give us the fiat to collect billions of money for our country. How? Former Head of State, Late General Sani Abacha, looted the treasury of the CBN and took dollars, pounds and Euros which he scattered in 140 banks in the world.

“We identified these banks and now pleaded with the government to give us the fiat to help it to ask these countries: ‘you have kept these monies for 20 years what about the interests, what of the damages payable for keeping looted public treasury by a public official whose salaries you ought to have known in your due diligence.’

“We were given the fiat for six months. We spent the six months gathering our evidence and at the time we were to pursue them the attorney general refused to renew the fiat. The NASS your job is cut out for you.”

Falana pointed out that any stolen money from the NNPC that is recovered belongs to the Federation and not the federal government, adding that any looted fund from the CBN recovered must go back into the federation account and not the TSA.

He noted that the sum of N10 trillion the Director General of the Budget Office in the Presidency, Dr. Ben Akabueze, alleged in December 2018 that the MDAs owed the country has remained uncollected since then.

“We will continue to encourage an organisation like SERAP, but let us get the appropriate agencies to do their work. I believe all of us like SERAP must stand up to demand accountability,” he said.

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