© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Senate blames Okonjo-Iweala for loss of N1.7trn generated by govt agencies
A Senate Ad-hoc Committee says Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, is to blame for the loss of about N1.7 trillion to the treasury between 2012 and 2016.
The Committee on Alleged Misuse, Under-Remittance and Other Fraudulent Activities made this known in an interim report presented before the Senate plenary on Tuesday by Olamilekan Adeola, Chairman of the committee.
According to the report, the amount of money that was not remitted to the coffers of the Federal Government by several revenue-generating agencies in those years amounted to approximately N1.7 trillion.
The panel said the development was as a result of a memo allegedly written by Okonjo-Iweala, which permitted the agencies to spend 75 percent of the revenue on internal expenditures and remit only 25 percent to the government.
The committee stated that the directive by Okonjo-Iweala “is a clear violation of Section 120 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 as well as the establishment acts of some of these institutions”.
A total amount of N21.5 trillion was supposed to have been remitted by 93 government agencies within the period in review, but 25 out of the 93 agencies defrauded the federal government of a total of N1,695,585,887,406, the report states.
According to the panel, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), which is Nigeria’s highest revenue earner, generated N15.541 trillion during the period in review, but it claimed that its expenditure was N18.657 trillion. This amounts to a total deficit of N3.1 trillion.
The Nigeria Customs Service generated N335.855 billion but withheld N83.963 billion; while the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) generated N455.5 billion but allegedly failed to remit N33.83 billion.
Similarly, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) reportedly remitted only N86.636 billion to the federal government out of the N789.104 billion it generated.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) allegedly generated N3.098 trillion but remitted only N13.716 billion; NIMASA generated N301.160 billion but remitted only N184.489 billion, and the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) remitted only N5.567 billion out of the N56.817 billion it generated.
The senate committee alleged that the affected agencies “deny the Auditor General of the Federation access to their financial books and records”, contrary to Section 125, subsections 3 and 4 of the Constitution.
The committee recommended that the Senate should “amend the laws where necessary to make it mandatory for all revenue generating agencies to accommodate resident auditors to be posted by the Auditor General of the Federation”.
These auditors will have access to all financial records and books to ensure compliance with relevant sections of the Constitution.
“The Senate should also amend the laws where necessary to make it mandatory for all revenue generating agencies to accommodate resident treasury officers to be posted by the Accountant General of the Federation that will have access to all financial records and books,” the report read further.
“The Fiscal Responsibility Act should be amended in a way to compel all agencies and institutions of government on compliance with financial regulations regarding income generation, accounting and remittances.”