Audit query: DBN disbursed N130bn through 21 microfinance banks

• as Reps condemns delay in rendition of annual financial reports by DBN, NHIS, NITDA, PEF • Committee recommends prosecution of all DGs, DFAs of NSITF

The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts in its two-year report has frowned at the failure of the Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) to render its annual financial reports to the office of the Auditor General of the Federation in line with extant provisions of the 1999 Constitution and relevant financial regulations.

According to the report laid before the House prior to the end of the Second Legislative year of the 9th Assembly, the bank came into operations in 2017 after the collaboration between the Federal Government and following Development Partners – African Development Bank, the World Bank, German Development Bank, France Development Bank and the CBN with 75% shares equity.

According to the information obtained by the Committee on Public Accounts, Federal Government owns 75% equity in DBN which makes funding available to 21 Microfinance and Commercial banks in the country and has provided about N130 billion to funding SMEs across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria.

However, the “bank rendered its audited accounts for 2017 and 2018 in 2020 after CBN approval before rendering them to the Auditor General.

“The Bank tendered letters of evidence of remittance of its audited accounts for sighting by both the Committee and the Auditor General Desk during the hearing. The Bank is said to provide 52% of its loan to women for trading,” the report stated.

In its recommendation, the House Committee on Public Accounts chaired by Hon. Woke Oke cautioned the Bank against delayed rendition of its financial reports.

In its assessment of the audit queries against the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), the Committee disclosed that “NHIS has not rendered its audited accounts for past 13 years.

“The Executive Secretary of the Scheme lamented that this was due to frequent turnover of chief executive officers of the Scheme which become so difficult to keep financial records of the Scheme and dissolution of its governing councils by succeeding governments over the years. He (Executive Secretary) said the audited accounts for 2014 and 2015 had been signed and given to the External Auditors for onward transmission to the office of the auditor general while 2016 to 2018 are at the final stage of completion.”

However, in its recommendation, the Committee which frowned at the Management of the Scheme for the non- rendition of their audited accounts over the past 13 years which is a total violation of the financial regulations and the Constitution, directed NHIS to furnish its procurement process and give written reasons for the delay which is still being awaited.

In the same vein, the Committee during its investigation into the audit queries against National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), observed that the Agency submitted its 2014 audited accounts in October 2015; 2015 in November 2016; 2016 on 7, February 2018, and 2018 in November 2019.

Pleased by the timely rendition of its financial reports, the Committee commended the effort by the Agency for rendition, though delayed with few months.

In the report on Petroleum Equalization Fund (Management Board), the Committee observed that the Board submitted its 2014 and 2015 audited accounts duly but rendered that of 2016 in 2020 and is yet to remit those for 2017 and 2018.

To this end, the Committee condemned the delay and refusal by the Board to prepare and remit 2017 and 2018 audited accounts to the Auditor General which infringed on Section 85(3B) of the Constitution. Hence, recommended that: “All officers involved should be sanctioned in line with Financial Regulations No. 3112 (ii).”

In its report on the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), the Auditor General Desk confirmed the Fund last rendered its audited account in 2005, leaving 2006 to 2018 still outstanding.

“On Thursday 20th February 2020 the Minister of Labour and Employment was invited to appear at the hearing on the issue but was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Mr William Aloh as the Minister was away to attend the burial of the late Chairman of Senate Committee on Labour and Employment, Imo State.”

However, in its recommendation, the Committee while at this worrisome attitude of the Fund for refusing to render its audited accounts for last 13 years yet benefited from the Federal Treasury, recommended that: “All Director Generals of the Fund and their DFAs as well as various External Auditors from 2006 till now should be handed over to the EFCC in line with FR No. 3129 for further prosecution to compel them to refund all money received and misused by the officers.”

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