By Umar Muhammad Puma
The House of Representatives Public Accounts Committee (PAC), has issued a 4 days ultimatum to the Director General of the Budget Office, Mr. Ben Akabueze to turn-in all documents relating to the sum of N2,654,940.00 (Two million, six hundred and fifty-four thousand, nine hundred and forty naira) paid as premium to an insurance company in 2014.
The committee also frowned at ignominy and disdain with which the Budget Office treated the request for documents by the AuGF, saying that “this is very despicable and condemnable”.
The Office of the Auditor General of the Federation (AuGF), had in its 2015 audit report to the National Assembly, queried the absence of relevant documents to justify the payment during its audit exercise at the agency in 2014.
The report noted several un-cooperative behaviours by officials of the agency who refused to avail auditors with documents to prove that the said insurance policy exists and was worth the amount so paid.
It also alleged that the agreement entered into between the company and the Budget Office was not attached to the payment voucher nor produced for inspection, adding that “efforts made to obtain the documents for audit verification also proved abortive”.
Members of the Committee who are mostly trained accountants and lawyers expressed displeasure at the alleged behaviour of the agency’s officials.
Chairman of the committee Rep Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers), in his ruling noted the “tardiness” of the agency’s response to the query and ordered that all original copies of documents and the files be produced.
“The committee finds it worrisome that National Assembly will be made to sit over queries hinged on refusal or neglect to furnish AuGF with documents/information.
“This is against the spirit of section 85 of the constitution, since there is no clear penalty and the Auditor General did not suffer any consequence to the infraction”, he said.
Rep Chinda therefore drew members’ attention to the provision of section of section 88(2) of the constitution and advised that a legislative measure be taken to fill the lacuna.
The query was upheld and the DG Budget Office, Ben Akabueze was ordered to produce the following on Monday:
The vehicle files for the motor vehicles insurance; The insurance cover of each vehicle; The original copy of the contract agreement, and The premium paid in previous years;