30 October 2011, Sweetcrude, ABUJA – The Auditor-General for the Federation, Mr. Samuel Ukura has clarified reports in the media concerning the non-submission of audited accounts by some government agencies including the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, among others, to his office.
He also noted that the issue of indictment of the National Assembly by the Office was inconsistent and inaccurate, adding that it had only sought to strengthen the good relationship with the Public Accounts Committee of the legislature.
The said report has generated a lot of heated reaction from some of the agencies concerned, especially the NNPC which has gone the extra mile to publish records of its audited accounts over the years.
The clarification was contained in a statement on Sunday presented to correspondents in Abuja by a Director in the Extra-Ministerial Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation, Mr. Hyacinth Obilor.
According to the statement, “The Auditor-General for the Federation did not at anytime allege that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) did not submit audited accounts to this Office.”
It pointed out that the report submitted to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the House of Representatives on October 14, 2011 concerning the status of the audited accounts showed that the Corporation submitted its audited accounts up to 2010.
It added, “Therefore, this Office does not know the source of the information that elicited the embarrassing reactions and publication in the national newspapers by the Corporation without official verification from the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation.
“The Office, therefore, demands a retrieval of the said publication to put the issue at stake in its right perspective.”
Obilor explained that the delay in the clarification by the Office of the Auditor-General was because of the rule against civil servants going to the press with issues that could be dealt with internally.
He also pointed out that the claim by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, that thet are not required by law to submit their audited accounts to the Office was inconsistent with the provisions of Section 85, subsection 3 (b) of the 1999 Constitution which stipulates that the Auditor-General shall comment on the annual accounts and auditor’s report thereon of all government statutory corporations, authorities, agencies, including all persons and bodies established by an Act of the National Assembly.
According to him, “EFCC is also an institution established by an Act of the National Assembly. The section the amended EFCC Act which the Commission is relying on its publication deals with issues of report of its activities to the National Assembly. This does not preclude the Commission from submitting its audited accounts to the Auditor-General for his comments as provided for in the Constitution.”
He added that, “In 2009, the EFCC submitted their 2007 audited accounts to the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation but it was rejected because it did not include the Domestic report. That was the only time we ever got any report of an audited account from the EFCC.”
He further stressed that the need for the Commission to abide by the law with regards to submitting its audited accounts to the Office of the Auditor-General was intended to enhance the internal control on the External Auditors who audit these accounts as well as to ensure public accountability and probity in the management of public funds.
“In order to enhance transparency, probity and accountability in all government financial transactions, the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation is appealing to all stakeholders to submit their audited accounts on time and to approach the Office for verification of facts and figures or clarification on any issues when in doubt.
“In our drive to be a foremost Audit institution, applying best professional practices towards fostering accountability in the nation and providing leadership to other audit institutions in the country, we solicit full cooperation of all stakeholders and the general public,” he noted.