Reps to conduct status inquiry on N90bn unaccounted revenue of two river basin authorities

• Uncover ghost workers who collected salaries 14 years after Corporation's privatisation

The House of Representatives, on Monday, resolved to conduct Status of Inquiry into Anambra-Imo River Basin Development Authority and Sokoto-Rima River Basin Development Authority for failing to account for over N90 billion accrued revenue between 2013 and 2015.

Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, Hon. Wole Oke, who stated this during the ongoing investigative hearing into the alleged deliberate and reckless refusal by non-treasury and partially funded agencies to render their audited accounts covering the period from 2014 to 2018, threatened to issue a warrant of arrest on heads of government agencies who fail to appear before it.

Breakdown of the fund showed that Anambra-Imo River Development Authority received N27 billion in 2013 and N32 billion in 2014 but failed to provide audited accounts to the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation as stipulated in the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007.

While reviewing the oAuGF queries on the agency, Hon. Oke, who frowned at the level of impunity being perpetrated by public officials, described the situation in the agency as “a big scandal of the year.”

However, in his response, Managing Director of Anambra-Imo River Development Authority, Pascal Emekoro argued that the agency’s allocation does not exceed N10 billion annually.

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Worried by the agency’s continued disregard for extant financial laws and regulations, Hon. Oke summoned all the past Managing Directors and Director of Finance and Account to appear before the Committee.

Similarly, the Committee expressed disgust over the failure of management of Sokoto Rima Basin Development Authority to account the utilisation of N1 billion revenue realised between 2014 and 2017.

While expressing dismay over the failure of the agency to submit it’s audited accounts four years after, to the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation for scrutiny as provided by the law, Hon. Oke summoned all the past Managing Directors and Director of Finance and Account to appear before it.

In a related development, Hon. Oke ordered the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Basin Development Authority to appear before the committee on Tuesday or risk arrest.

Speaking at the investigative hearing, Assistant General Manager, Finance of Nigeria Mining Corporation, Dauda Ibrahim Gambo informed the Committee that some workers have been receiving salaries from government 14 years after privatisation in 2006.

Worried by the development, Hon. Oke directed that the Ministers of Solid Minerals & Steel Development; Water Resources and Director General of Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) should appear before the committee to answer questions relating to agencies under their supervision.

Similarly, about 24 former workers of the Lagos International Trade Fair, who were sacked when the agency was concessioned but absolved by the parent ministry, are still collecting salaries from the organization.

The Committee, however, placed all River Basin Development Authority on status enquiry, saying the House wants to get that root of the non-rendition of audited account to the office of the Auditor General of the Federation by hon treasury funded and partially funded agencies in accordance with the law.

To this end, the Committee resolved to place Anambra-Imo River Basin Development Authority, Lower Benue River Basin Development Authority, Cross River Basin Development Authority; Sokoto Rima Basin Development Authority, Lake Chad Basin Development Authority; Benin Owens River Basin Development Authority and Lower Niger River Basin Development Authority on status enquiry.

Also placed on status enquiry was the Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority, while the investigation into the finances of National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) was stepped down due to poor representation.

Meanwhile, Executive Director, NIRSAL Micro Finance Bank,  Lawrence Akande who appeared before the committee inform themed that even though the bank was established to help drive small scale investment in the country, there is no single kobo from public funds invested in the bank.

He said the only funds the bank was using for its operations was the share of the equity paid by the Bankers Committee who owns 60 per cent of the bank equity.

He said the vision of the bank was to have branches in the 774 Local Government Areas of the country, stressing that at the moment, they have only 53 branches and expected to complete additional 60 before the end of the year.

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