A startling revelation has emerged on how the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Nigerian Army, Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA) and other government agencies illegally collected a whopping N76billion from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation without approval from the National Assembly.
This is contained in an audit report by Auditor General report which was submitted to the Red Chamber by the Senate committee on Public Accounts chaired by Senator Mathew Urhoghide.
According to the 2015 report adopted by the Senate, the funds were drawn from 25 per cent Husked Rice Levy, one per cent Comprehension Import Supervision Scheme (CISS) Pool levy, 15 per cent wheat Grain Levy and 10 per cent Rice Levy by Office of Accountant General of the Federation to these agencies illegally and were not paid.
The report approved by upper chamber noted that N922.4 million was withdrawn from 25 per cent Husked Brown Rice Levy as Loan, while N7billion was also collected from 1 per cent CISS levy as loan and N10billion as loan to INEC to finance the 2015 general election.
The record showed that the money totaling N17.92billion was released to INEC as loans on January 12, 2015 and was never paid back to the source.
Also, from the 15 per cent wheat grain levy, an amount totaling N31.4billion was released to the Nigerian Army, National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Revitalization of Universities Infrastructures Account and Federal Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development.
From the N31.4 billion, the Army collected the sum of N4.7billion to fund some of their activities just as the NYSC collected N6.4 billion to also fund their activities and passing out ceremony from the orientation camp.
Revitalization of Universities Infrastructures Account also collected N10 billion for funding of federal universities, while federal ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development got about N10.2 billion to fund Execution of 2013 dry season farming.
Furthermore, a loan from the Rice Levy account to the abouttune of N37.4 billion was given to the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Office of National Security Adviser, the Nigerian Custom Service (NCS), Nigerian Communication Satellite Operation (NIGCOSAT), INEC and NELMCO.
From the N37.4 billion, the report indicated that INEC collected N10 billion, NIGCOSAT N450 million, Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity got N5 billion to pay the allowance of unskilled youths in Public works programme, the ONSA got N3.5 billion, Ministry of Defence collected N428 million, and Revitalization of Universities Infrastructures Account got N5.3billion.
Findings revealed the funds were never approved by the National Assembly before the Office of Accountant General released the funds to the agencies.
The query from the Auditor General of the Federation reads, “It was observed from 2014 audited account that mandate No FD/LP2014/57/1/82/DF dated 12th of January, 2015 amounting to N922.4 million was withdrawn from 25 percent Husked Brown Rice Levy as Loan given to INEC to finance 2015 elections.
“The loan is contrary to the purpose in which the fund was established which to help local production of brown rice in Nigeria.”
Another query to this effect also reads: ” It was observed from the 2014 audited Accounts that audited account that mandate No FD/LP2014/57/1/82/DF dated 12th of January, 2015 amounting to N7 billion was withdrawn from 1 Percent Comprehension Import Supervision Scheme (CISS) Levy as loan to INEC to finance 2015 elections .
“The loan is contrary to the purpose for which the fund was created which is to fund the destination Inspection Service Providers as provided in the law because they are not paid from the annual budget.”
Acting on the report, the Senate ordered the Office of Accountant General of the Federation to set a motion for the process of recovery of the loans and pay same back to the Special Funds Accounts as well as ensure the stoppage of further withdrawal from any of the accounts without the approval of the National Assembly.