The Nigerian Senate has instructed the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria to refund the sum of N94 million spent on an unoccupied building, and 64 vouchers to the Federation account.
This was disclosed by the Senate Public Accounts Committee on Wednesday. According to the committee, the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria had paid N66 million as a two-year rent to secure an accommodation which it did not occupy throughout the period.
The Committee, under the chairmanship of Senator Mathew Urhoghide, also faulted the agency’s use of 64 payment vouchers to allegedly divert N28 million.
However, the FRC in its written response claimed that it was carrying out repairs and partitioning of the building while the rent was running.
The FRC response reads, “Management’s response was that, upon the acquisition of the office accommodation at the Japaul House, there was a need to give the property a face-lift including partitioning befitting of an office.
“However, there was a change of Executive Secretary in 2017, which slowed the process of award of contract. Secondly, the Landlord was not willing to renew the tenancy agreement after the expiration of the current agreement. The Management further remarked that the Council is taking steps to utilize the building and secure a further lease from the Landlord.”
— The Nigerian Senate (@NGRSenate) March 24, 2021
What you should know
The panel is currently scrutinising the 2015 to 2018 report of the Auditor-General for the Federation.
The AuGF had in its report, queried the FRC for investing N66m on accommodation it never occupied.
It stated, “It was observed that on 21/11/16 the sum of N42m was paid as rent to Japaul Oil and Maritime Services for office space at Japaul Building. N23.4m was paid to Sola Oluseyi & Co, as legal and agency fee for the office space, making a total of N66m for two years ending 1/1/2019.
“The Council is yet to move into the building, 20 months running with 4 months to its expiration. (as of 2019). This anomaly was due to the failure of the Executive Secretary (of the FRC during the period) to exercise due diligence in the application of public funds by ensuring that value is received for money expended.
“The Council carried out the expenditure of such magnitude and yet fail to receive value. A huge sum of money was paid for rent by the Council but failed to occupy the building; this amounts to a waste of government resources.”
Another query raised by the AuGF against the FRC reads, “During the audit, it was observed that sixty-four (64) payment vouchers for the sum of N28,765,842.11 was raised and paid without the Internal Audit stamps and dates, in contravention to the provisions of extant laws and regulations.
“This infraction was due to the failure of the Executive Secretary to strictly comply with the provisions of law and laid down procedures aimed at strengthening the internal control system in government agencies. Payments arising from vouchers not pre audited cannot be accepted as a judicious charge against public funds.”