Audit report shows FCT department failed to account for N367m

THE Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Social Development Secretariat (SDS) failed to account for N367 million in 2020, the audit for the year 2020 conducted by the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation (OAuGF) has shown.

The report, made available recently, revealed that over N130.2 million was paid by the Secretariat to different beneficiaries using 112 vouchers during the period under review.

However, the paid vouchers and other relevant documents were not presented for audit.

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Describing this as an anomaly, the OAuGF stated that the absence of the documents might be attributed to a weakness in the internal control system of the Secretariat and suggested that government funds had been lost or the payment of N130.2 million was made for unapproved expenditure.

Also, another N5 million was paid to an organisation officer, who was not named in the report, for urgent repairs and replacement of stolen items at the FCT National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) secretariat on December 31, 2020.

However, the details of the items repaired and replaced were not provided during the audit. Other relevant documents, such as the paid vouchers or police reports on the stolen items, were also unavailable during the audit.

This contravenes Nigeria’s Public Sector Financial Regulation Act (2009), which provided in Paragraph 601 that “all payment entries in the cash book/accounts shall be vouched for on one of the prescribed treasury forms. Vouchers be made out in favour of the person or persons to whom the money is actually due. Under no circumstances shall a cheque be raised or cash paid for services for which a voucher has not been raised.”

Other parts of the Act violated are Paragraph 708, which states that payment must not be made for goods not yet supplied or services not yet performed and 603 (i), which requires that vouchers shall contain all details of the service, including dates, quantity and rates, among others.

The report disclosed that the absence of these documents suggested possible loss or diversion of public funds.

Unspent funds for National Sports Festival not refunded

Two payments, which sum up to over N165.4 million, were paid into the personal account of the Acting Secretary/Director of Sports, who was also Director of the Finance and Administration of the Secretariat, for the National Sports Festival activities slated for March-April, 2020.

Although the activities could not be held due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the money was never returned to government coffers.

“The Sports Festival was not held due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and there was no evidence that the advances were retired at the time of exit of the Acting Secretary/Director of Sports from the Service,” the report read.

This is a violation of the Public Sector Financial Regulation Act, which states in Paragraph 1405 that “accounting officers are responsible for ensuring the prompt repayment of all advances by instalments or otherwise.”

In February 2020, the former chairperson of the Nigerian Women’s Football League, Dilichukwu Onyedimma, was appointed as Acting Executive Secretary of the FCT Social Development Secretariat.

She was to oversee six departments within the secretariat, including the sports unit.

According to the report, non-repayment of these funds raises suspicions of loss or misappropriation of government funds.

The OAuGF recommended that the secretariat account for the money and remit it to the national treasury.

Store items worth over N67m not recorded

The secretariat procured store items worth over N67.2 million without adequate documentation as required by the Public Sector Financial Regulation Act.

    Except in cases of consumable and expendable stores bought in small quantities, all payment vouchers for the purchase of stores must be certified by the storekeeper as received.

    These items must also be taken on charge in the stores’ ledger and show the receipt voucher’s number. The original copy of the receipt must also be attached to the original Local Purchase Order (LPO), according to Paragraph 2402 of the Act.

    However, the OAuGF’s report disclosed that “store items valued at N67,278,640.00 were purchased through cash advances”, and the items were not taken on ledger charge, contrary to the provisions of extant regulations.

    According to the OAuGF, these actions suggest that government funds may have been lost or payments were made for items not supplied.

    Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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