Auditor General queries Nigerian diplomats in Germany over N248m expenses without approval
OUTGOING Auditor-General for the Federation, AuGF, Anthony Ayine, has queried officials of the Nigerian embassy in Germany for spending N248 million without approval from the National Assembly.
This was disclosed in the 2015 audit report currently being examined by the Senate Committee on Public Accounts.
Matthew Urhoghide of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, representing Edo South Senatorial district raised the concerns of the AuGF during the committee’s deliberation in Abuja.
The AuGF queried the affected officials in a petition, asking why the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2014 failed to abide by the financial regulations and extant laws.
“The embassy (in Germany) overspent its budget for 2014 in 16 subheads, totalling N248,025,564.88.
“This act of over expenditure by the embassy is a virement by the Mission without approval from the National Assembly,” the query read in part.
The petition also stated the AuGF had asked the ministry to explain the details behind its spending without approval.
“The Mission, through the Permanent Secretary, has been advised to abide by the provisions of the financial regulations and extant circular, which states that expenditure must be within the amount provided in the subheads.
“It is also necessary that the embassy should explain the source of the extra funds spent,” it stated.
However, in its written response to the audit query, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs explained that the embassy did not overspend its budget for 2014.
“Some of the subheads where funds were needed were under-provided for. The only fund spent outside the budget was a donation of €5,000 made by Julius Berger Nigeria Limited to the Mission as a gift for the National Day celebration.
“The allocations to sub-heads were not in line with the requirements of the Mission, the costs of services were very high and delayed allocations were grossly responsible for the Mission’s action.
“The Mission could not afford to delay payments for services provided to avoid being blacklisted by the host community,” the ministry replied.
The Chairman of the panel, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, sustained the audit query and pointed out that the embassy officials erred by not seeking approval for virement from the National Assembly.
In another development, Adolphus Aghughu is set to take over the helm of the affair as AuGF in an acting capacity as the auditor-general, Anthony Ayine embarks on retirement from the service.
This was contained in a statement by Oghenekevwe Ebireri, Media Officer in the Office of the Auditor-General in Abuja who said that Aghughu would serve in an acting capacity until a substantive AuGF is appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari.