Senate probes N848m, $1.5m scandal in Foreign Affairs Ministry
The Senate Committee on Public Account chaired by Senator Mathew Urhoghide is investigating alleged financial scandal of N848 million and $1.5 million respectively by officials of Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tel-Aviv, Israel.
The Senate investigation was a sequel to the report of the Auditor General of Federation, Anthony Ayine which indicted the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Chairman of Senate Committee on Public Account has since directed that the former permanent secretary in the Ministry must be compelled to account for the mismanaged funds in the Ministry.
A representative of Secretary of Ministry of Affairs, Salawu Zubair was unable to give satisfactory answers to posers raised by the
Senator Urhoghide led Committee.
The Auditor-General Report revealed several irregularities. It read in part: “The sum of $858,704,50 was generated as revenue in respect of visa and administrative charges for the period 2013- 2015. The following irregularities were observed.
” Treasury boon 6A and Treasury Book 6 revenue booklets were not kept, and consequently not made available.
“Revenue collector’s registers with details of TR6A and relevant amount were not maintained
“Revenue cash books were not updated with relevant entries throughout 2014.
“The permanent secretary has been requested to explain these irregularities in revenue collection, account for the sum of $858,704.50 collected as well as carry out the surcharge of officers involved, otherwise, the full weight of financial regulations 3112 (1) should be applied, forwarding evidence of action taken for audit verification.
” The sum of $187,554.49 was transferred from revenue to overhead accounts as revealed in the revenue cash books of 2013 and 2015.
“The amount was claimed to have been borrowed from the Internally Generated Revenue Account for the period but was never paid back. This action contravenes financial regulations 236.
“The Permanent Secretary has been requested to recover the entire amount and forward evidence of recovery and remittance to government chest for audit verification.
ALSO READ: Father beheads 5-yr-old son in Osun
“Audit examination revealed that out of the sum $305,577 was unaccounted for.
“It was also observed that between 2013 and 2015 the sum of N517,247,500.8 was remitted to the embassy.
“The sum for capital, personnel and overhead cost. These remittances were all paid into one account.
“This is a violation of financial regulations 701 which requires separate bank accounts to be maintained for capital and overhead to enable transparent rendition of expenditure return in accordance with budgetary provisions.
“The expenditure return rendered by the embassy cannot be admissible as a true reflection of the transaction of the lumping of expenditure remittances (personnel, overhead and capital) into a bank account.
“The Permanent Secretary has been requested to explain these banking irregularities and revert to the separation of bank accounts in accordance with statutory regulations, forwarding evidence of action taken for audit verification.
“During the audit examination of payment voucher, the total sum of $158, 000 was paid as estacode allowance to home-based staff to accompany Christians pilgrims from Nigeria to various religious sites.
“However, it was revealed while going through the supporting documents attached to the payment voucher that these pilgrims were usually accompanied by the Nigerian Pilgrims Commission, hence there is no need for embassy staff to escort them, the Permanent Secretary has been requested to stop further wastage of statutory allocations on meaningless pilgrimage tours that will aid the embassy on accomplishing its mandate and in informing me accordingly on action taken.
“During the verification of the AIEs extracted from the ministry into the AIEs files maintained at the Nigerian embassy in Tel-Aviv. It was observed that AIEs totalling N331m extracted from the ministry of foreign affairs did not reflect at the embassy.
“The Permanent Secretary ha been requested to explain why these AIEs totalling N331m were not recorded and accounted for n the embassy files or recover the total amount and forward the recovery particulars to me for verification.”