A Freedom of Information request has been issued to the Auditor-General of the Federation by the Civil Society Network Against Corruption, CSNAC, seeking a copy of the 2009-2014 audit report of the National Assembly.
The Chairman of CSNAC, Olanrewaju Suraju, disclosed the development on Sunday. He said public disclosure of the report would help the civil society hold the National Assembly to account.
Mr. Suraju said his group’s FoI request was based on a September 11 story by PREMIUM TIMES, which reported contents of the audit report as they concerned the National Assembly.
This newspaper had reported how the National Assembly management failed to account for a total expenditure of over N9.4 billion in 2014, according to the audit report of Nigerian government bodies submitted to the Clerk of the legislative body in March.
The money included N9.39 billion for which no “documentary evidence” was provided and a N47 million to be returned to government coffers out of which only N360,000 was returned; giving a total of N9,440,844,572 (nine billion, four hundred and forty million, eight hundred and four thousand, five hundred and seventy two Naira).
“In the light of the above, CSNAC is, pursuant to Sections 1, 2, 3 & 4 of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, requesting the Auditor General of the Federation for a copy of this audit report,” Mr. Suraju said in the FoI request.
“This information will assist us in exercising our mandate of collaborating with Governments in fighting corruption.
“We look forward to receiving this information promptly, and in any event, within Seven (7) days of the receipt of this application as provided for in Section 4 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.”
PREMIUM TIMES had reported how the audit report indicted agencies like the National Assembly, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Ministry of Interior, Presidency, Central Bank of Nigeria and some foreign missions.
In May – after the audit report had been submitted to the National Assembly, the Senate Committee on Public Accounts led by Andy Uba (PDP-Anambra) held a public hearing during which a number of government bodies refuted certain findings of the audit report, particularly the disclosure that they didn’t submit their internal audit reports between 2009 and 2014.
Some of the bodies that challenged aspects of the report were CBN, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) and Nigeria Pension Commission.
However, the National Assembly has not denied the findings of the audit report as they relate to the lawmaking body – though its committee castigated the then Auditor-General of the Federation, Samuel Ukura, for an “unsatisfactory report”, cashing in on complaints by other government bodies.
The law says the National Assembly should refer the audit report to its committee on Public Accounts for consideration.
After considering the report, the committee is empowered to pass a resolution to either publish the report in the National Assembly journal or government’s official gazette.
Since the committee considered the report, it has not passed the resolution for its publication in either channel.
Since September 11, Mr. Uba has not responded to our request that he furnish us with details of actions taken to execute the provision of the law.
The National Assembly has N115 billion budget for this year, and had higher allocation in the previous years. But it has been widely criticized for being opaque as it does not disclose details of its budget even after repeated promises upon requests from the media and civil society.