PREMIUM TIMES challenges the Auditor-General to explain why he failed to forward the report to the National Assembly two years after, when he is constitutionally required do so within 90 days.
The Auditor-General of the Federation, Samuel Ukura, lied in his claim that no audit report from his office indicted a former Head of the Civil Service, Stephen Oronsaye, over an alleged N123billion fraud perpetrated during his tenure, between 2009 and 2010, PREMIUM TIMES can authoritatively report today.
This newspaper had on September 15 reported how a team of auditors constituted by Mr. Ukura himself wrote a 169-page report indicting Mr. Oronsaye for allegedly presiding over a regime of sleaze during his tenure which led to the mismanagement of about N123billion of public funds.
But shortly after this paper published its story, the Auditor General’s office bought spaces in major Nigerian newspapers disowning the work done and the report written by his own staff.
In the widely circulated advertorial, he claimed there was no such report and that there was only “audit observation made by the audit team that conducted the audit exercise” — (whatever this means).
The Auditor-General, who appeared to have buckled under pressure from those desperate to suppress the report, also claimed that the so-called audit observation did not mention Mr. Oronsaye’s name nor did it indict him.
This newspaper is now making public the executive summary of the report, which clearly put a lie to all the claims made by the Auditor General.
For one, the cover page of the document was entitled “Report of the Office of the Auditor-General on the Special Audit of the Accounts of the Civil Pensions For the Period 2005 – 2010 Financial Years”.
The document was a “Special Audit of Account”, and was never labelled “Audit Observation” as the Auditor-General is struggling to make the world to believe.
The report, which is a definite outcome of an investigation, arose from the work of a Special Audit Team constituted by the Auditor-General in May 2011 to conduct a comprehensive examination of the accounts of the Civilian Pension Department domiciled in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation.
The audit, which covered the period 2005 -010, uncovered monumental financial irregularities, opaque transactions, irregular and abnormal running costs, and outright stealing and kick-backs at the Head of Service’s office, a trend said to have reached its zenith during the 18 months that Mr. Oronsaye served as Head of Service.
Although the auditors also uncovered financial irregularities during the tenure of his predecessors, the team found that it was during Mr. Oronsaye’s reign – between 2009 and 2010 – that the mismanagement of pension funds rose to an all-time high, with about N123billion of public funds unaccounted for.
In fact, contrary to the Auditor-General’s claim, the report clearly mentioned Mr. Oronsaye as having frustrated measures that would have allowed for some accountability in the administration of pension funds during his reign.
The report said on page 14: “The federal audit unit resident in the Establishment and Records office had been carrying out prepayment audit of pure federal retirees’ monthly pension and gratuities until August 2009, when the then Head of Service Mr. S. Orasanya (Orosanye) stopped further processing of pension payments in respect of pure federal retirees, as narrated by the then Auditor-in-charge, Mr. A. Eiyenla.”
This newspaper is in possession of documents showing how the internal auditor attached to his office, Oludare Medayedupin, repeatedly wrote to Mr. Oronsaye warning him of the financial mismanagement his office was perpetrating.
For instance, in March 2010, a frustrated Mr. Medayedupin wrote as follows:
“During the period of report (January 2010), directive was given (by Mr. Oronsaye) for the payment of the backlog of arrears of pensioners. The verification and clearance of the beneficiaries were conducted by the Accounts Unit, which had earlier prepared the list – thereby negating the principles of checks and balances.
“The verified vouchers for the arrears were not verified and audited before mandates were sent to the bank to effect payments, which was a clear violation of Financial Regulation 2011 and extant circular on government funds.
“After several write-ups on the need for compliance with financial regulation, payments of pensioners’ monthly pension are still being effected without auditing.”
But Mr. Oronsaye didn’t act on the auditor’s warning, and Mr. Medayedupin wrote the same kind of letter to him month after month. Those letters are part of the appendices attached to the report.
A spineless Auditor-General
Section 85(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, empowers the Auditor-General of the Federation to audit and report on the public accounts of the Federation and of all Offices and Courts of the federation.
Similarly, section 85(4) of the Constitution stipulate that the Auditor-General shall have power to conduct periodic checks on all Government statutory corporations, commissions, authorities, agencies, including all persons and bodies established by an act of the National Assembly. Furthermore, Section 301 vests the Auditor-General with the power to audit the account of Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory.
In accordance to Section 85(5) of the 1999 Constitution, the Auditor-General shall, within 90 days of receipt of the Accountant General’s financial statement, submit his Report to each House of the National Assembly (The Senate and the House of Representatives) and each House shall cause the Report to be considered by a Committee of the House of the National assembly responsible for Public accounts.
Section 85(6) of the Constitution states that “in the exercise of his function under the Constitution, the Auditor General shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other authority or person”.
But by yielding to external pressure to suppress, and then disown a report by his own office, this Auditor-General has shown that he is a spineless, unprofessional official unfit for the position he has been given, said Musikilu Mojeed, PREMIUM TIMES managing editor, while reacting to Mr. Ukura’s action.
“These kinds of people are the reasons corruption is blossoming in this country,” Mr. Mojeed said. “He is a disgrace to his profession, to the department he heads and to this country whose progress is unfortunately being held down by monumental corruption.
“He should hide his face in shame because an Auditor-General who shields corruption is a present and permanent danger to his country, state or society.”
Mr. Mojeed challenged Mr. Ukura to tell Nigerians why he failed to forward the report to the National Assembly for consideration two years after his office completed work on it.
“The Constitution expects him to forward audit reports to the Public Accounts Committees of the National Assembly within 90 days of completing work on them. But this man has been sitting on this report since 2011. After we exposed it, he is shamelessly scrambling to cover up himself and his corrupt friends.”
Mr. Mojeed said his newspaper would remain unbowed by the “antics of characters like the Auditor-General. We will never shy away from our mission of holding individuals, corporations and governments accountable in our country, no matter whose ox is gored”.