Revealed! How petroleum ministry officials ‘hid N535 million expenditure vouchers from audit team’
Thirty-nine payment vouchers of a total amount of N535 million (N535,662,523.40) for both recurrent and capital expenditure were hidden by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and not handed over for audit during a recent audit exercise, a report from the Auditor-General’s office has revealed.
According to Premiumtimesng, the report noted that the payment vouchers, which include N21 million (N21, 583,677) for recurrent expenditure and N514 million (N514,078,646.11) for capital expenditure, “were hidden and not produced for audit examination during the time of audit exercise despite the demand for them.”
The report, signed by the Auditor General, noted further that this may indicate that the expenditures the vouchers represent were illegitimate.
“In view of this, I find it difficult to accept these expenditures as proper and legitimate charges against public funds.
“The payment vouchers should be produced for audit otherwise the total expenditure of N535,662,523.40 (Five hundred and thirty-five million, six hundred and sixty-two thousand, five hundred and twenty-three naira, forty kobo) made should be recovered from the payees,” the report said.
Similarly, between July and December, 2015, the report revealed that the sum of N1 million (N1,093,000.00) was paid to 13 individual accounts and organisations without raising payment vouchers and posting into the Cash book of the same ministry.
This, it explained, is contrary to Financial Regulation 601 which states that “Under no circumstance shall a cheque be raised or cash paid for service for which a voucher has not been raised.”
The Auditor General, therefore, instructed that the N1,093,000.00 be recovered from the signatories to the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System, GIFMIS, platform and recovery details furnished for verification.
The report also revealed that 52 advances granted to 46 officers for a total sum of N18 million (N18, 034,200.00) between January and August, 2015, were not retired as at the time of audit in August, 2016.
Four of the officers got more than one advance without retiring the previous one, the report revealed, contrary to the provision of the Financial Regulation 1420 which states that “it is the responsibility of all Accounting Officers to ensure that all advances granted to officers are fully recovered.”
The audit report instructed, however, that the outstanding advances totalling N18 million (N18.034,200.00) should be recovered from the officers immediately while recovery particulars should be forwarded for verification.
Efforts to get the reaction of the NNPC to the report were unsuccessful. Its spokesperson, Ndu Ughamadu, did not return calls or reply a text message sent to him.
The 2015 audit, the latest by the office of the auditor general, has unearthed several revelations of alleged fraud in government expenditure in 2015.
PREMIUM TIMES recently reported how according to the audit, payments totalling N11,700, 000 were made by the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development to enable Minister, Aisha Alhassan, and some other staff members to embark on ‘familiarisation visits’ to unnamed skill acquisition centres in selected states in 2015.
Interestingly, part of the funds was spent on November 11, 2015, the day the minister was officially sworn-in.
The 656-page audit report also revealed how cumulative unremitted revenue from domestic crude oil sales by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, stood at about N3.878 trillion as at December 31, 2015.
The report, which formed part of the submissions in the 2015 Annual Audit Report of the Federal Government Account said the state–owned oil company withheld about N644.377 billion in 2015 alone.
The report also said that at least 44 assorted arms belonging to the Nigerian police could not be accounted for between 2013 and 2015, raising fears the weapons could have ended up in the wrong hands.