AuGF queries NOA over unretired N2bn advances to staff

By Sanni Onogu, Abuja

The Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation (AuGF), has queried the National Orientation Agency (NOA) over alleged payment of N2 billion as cash advances to some members staff that was not retired.

The AuGF also faulted the agency for paying N129million to staff in cash contrary to the e-payment policy of the Federal Government.

The queries are contained in the 2016 report of the Auditor-General of the Federation being considered by the Senate Committee on Public Accounts.

It was learnt NOA did not attach the vouchers used in disbursing the N2 billion to the documents submitted to the Committee but only presented journals to justify the expenditure, a development which members of the committee frowned at.

Members of the Committee also kicked against the alleged payment of N129million cash to some members of staff of the agency rather than paying the money into their individual bank accounts as stipulated in the Circular on e-payment Ref. No. TRY/A8&B8/2008 OAGF/CAD/026/VOL.11/465 dated 22nd October, 2008.

A member of the Committee, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, sought to know what emergency led to the breach of the e-payment policy and for which the N129million had to be paid to staff in cash.

The Director-General of NOA, Dr. Garba Abari, however asked the Committee for more time to enable the agency supply relevant documents to back the N2billion expenditure.

On the N129million paid to staff in cash, the agency failed to give satisfactory answer to were Senator Nwaoboshi’s question.

The first query reads: “The following observations were made:- (a) A sum of N1.9 billion being cash advanced to some members of staff of the Agency, was left unretired as at 31st December, 2014.

“In 2015, additional outstanding advances amounting to N108.4 million was recorded, thereby bringing the total to N2billion.

“The practice of not retiring advances granted to staff contravened the provision of Financial Regulation 1405 which stipulates that accounting officers are responsible for ensuring prompt repayment of all advances by installments or otherwise.

“Furthermore, Advances Register was not properly maintained and retirement file not kept in line with Financial Regulation 1404 which requires each accounting officer of a Ministry/Extra Ministerial office and other arms of government to ensure that Advances Account Records are fully indexed and maintained to record advances issued and all recoveries made.”

NOA in its written response said, “After careful examination of our books, it was found that the figures are programmes’ expenses and ought to have been expenses after retirement and not to be capitalized and carried forward in our statement of financial position in the General purpose financial statement (GPFS).”

The second query reads: “Examination of the Agency‟s payment vouchers revealed that payments totalling N129,036,700.00 (One hundred and twenty-nine million, thirty-six thousand, seven hundred naira) violated the provision of the Circular on e-payment Ref No. TRY/A8&B8/2008/OAGF/CAD/026/VOL.11/465 dated 22nd October, 2008 which stipulates that all employees of the Federal Government of Nigeria must open an account with a commercial bank into which all payments due to him/her must be paid and on no account should the Central Pay Officer (CPO) collect cash from the bank for the purpose of disbursement to a government official or contractor.

“As a result, the expenditures cannot be accepted as legitimate charges against public funds. The Director-General should justify the breach of extant regulations.

“Otherwise, the officers that authorized the payments should be sanctioned in compliance with Financial Regulation 3128.”

The agency in its written response said: “The payment in question were accumulation of several payments made over a period of time while the agency was carrying out its various programmes.

“The urgency and nature of the Agency’s programmes sometimes necessitate it to use the programme accountant to disburse money to individuals who may not have accounts or are constrained by time and circumstances to quickly access their bank as most of these programmes are time bound.”

The Committee chaired by Senator Matthew Urhoghide, however resolved to grant the request of the Director General of the agency for more time to address the issues raised in the query and adjourned further consideration of the report till May 27, 2021.


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