04 February 2014, Abuja – The auditor-general of the federation (AuGF), Mr Samuel Ukura, has said that it has to consult the Public Accounts committees of the National Assembly and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) before it could act on the request of LEADERSHIP Newspaper.
Ukura stated this in his reply to the newspaper’s request for a report of the audited accounts of the NNPC.
LEADERSHIP had written to the AuGF over the non-remittance of $10.8billion crude oil revenue by the NNPC to the federation account as claimed by the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, in a letter to President Goodluck Jonathan.
In its first letter to the AuGF, LEADERSHIP had requested the audited accounts of the NNPC in his possession, but Ukura had replied that his office does not audit NNPC’s accounts in line with Section 85 (3) of the 1999 Constitution but can only provide a list of qualified external auditors from which NNPC and other statutory corporations, commissions and bodies created by an Act of the National Assembly shall appoint their external auditors.
Subsequently, LEADERSHIP wrote again and asked for copies of the external auditor’s report on the audited accounts of the NNPC in the last five years (2009 to 2013); reports of the last five periodic checks of the NNPC accounts conducted by the AuGF in accordance with Section 85 (4) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and the last five external auditors that submitted to him reports of the audited accounts of NNPC.
In response to LEADERSHIP’s last request, the AuGF yesterday, in a letter with reference number OAuGF/LU/FOIA/VOL.1/1 and signed by one Mrs Uche Okafor-Agbi for the AuGF, said that the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 2011, and Chapter 1.2 of the Guidelines on the Implementation of the FOIA, 2013, revised edition, as issued and signed by the attorney general of the federation and minister of justice, made provisions for “consultation with originating institution during consideration of the FOIA application”.
The letter continues: “Bearing in mind that FOIA also states the application for information can be transferred to another public institution with greater interest in the requested information, I wish to state that in consideration of your application, that your request is being forwarded to the Public Accounts Committees of both Houses of the National Assembly for necessary action, the supreme legislative public institution to which the Auditor-General for the Federation reports, and the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation (OAuGF) is consulting with the originating public institution, which is NNPC, owner of the legacy accounting books and records being requested for, in line with the provisions of Chapter 1.2 of the Guidelines for the Implementation of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011, revised edition 2013. It is hoped that as soon as the due process on implementation of the FOIA, as it pertains to your request is completed, following responses from both the institution with greater interest [National Assembly] and the originating public institution [NNPC], OAuGF would be able to avail you the requested information at her disposal.”