HURIWA Carpets Auditor-General Over Contradictory Statements On Public Accounts

CIVIL RIGHTS ADVOCACY GROUP- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA)  has asked the Auditor-General of the Federation to avoid semantic gymnastics when he gives the nation a run-down of the audits of ministries and agencies of the Federation.

The Rights group wonders that  the National Assembly was on 18th August 2021 told that unsubstantiated balances amounting to N4.973 trillion were observed by the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation in the audit carried out on consolidated financial statement of the Federal Government in 2019 but the same Auditor-General denied saying any cash was missing.

HURIWA recalled that the Auditor-General who Spoke in Abuja while submitting the 2019 audit report to the Clerk to the National Assembly, Ojo Olatunde, Auditor-General for the Federation, Adolphus Aghughu, lamented that his office was incapacitated in so many ways from functioning effectively and efficiently as far as detection of mismanagement of public funds by Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, was concerned.

HURIWA therefore expressed shock that Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari claims to be fighting corruption but at the same time the federal government is unwilling to fund the office of the Auditor-General for the Federation just as the Rights group tasked the Auditor-General to resign from office if the required material and human resources necessary for efficiency and effectiveness of the office aren’t provided rather than stay on and be collecting salaries and allowances for doing next to nothing to detect the collosal and mind-blowing corruption and theft of finances of the public by ministers and Directors General of Federal government ministries and agencies.

HURIWA said it does not take a soothsayer or a naysayers to verify that public sector corruption has destroyed the nation’s strategic infrastructures due to lack of maintenance but the Rights group said it is unbelievable that the focus of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is on chasing young students about over their despicable involvement in advance fee fraud or yahoo yahoo whereas the largest number of economic saboteurs who are embedded in the public sector of Nigeria are allowed to get away with their monumental and mind-blowing corruption and theft of finances of the public.

HURIWA recalled that the Auditor-General said categorically that: “From the audit carried out on the 2019 Federal Government Consolidated Financial Statement, unsubstantiated balances amounting to N4.973 trillion were observed. The N4.973 trillion unsubstantiated balances are above the materiality level of N89.34 billion set for the audit. In auditing, materiality means not just a quantified amount, but the effect that amount will have in various contexts. During the auditing planning process, the auditor decides what the level of materiality will be, taking into account the entirety of the financial statements to be audited. Consequently, as submitted by the Auditor-General, required queries were issued against agencies found to be involved in the infractions.”

HURIWA said that regrettably, as soon as the news got to town that the ministries and agencies of the Federation failed to give satisfactory accounts of the huge imbalances in expenditures and releases, the same Auditor-General who had raised the alarm of lack of a synergy and balance in the books of the different ministries came out to deny the obvious and asserted that no cash was missing but still failed to explain why no money was missing but yet the accounts weren’t balanced as he had alleged.

HURIWA recalled that the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation  had said no money is missing from the Federation account in a clarification note released by the AuGF’s press unit thus:

“The Auditor-General for the Federation (AuGF), Mr Aghughu Adolphus A., JP, FCNA, FCTI wishes to state unequivocally that the “Unsubstantiated balances of N4.97tr” mentioned in his address during submission of his Annual Report on the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) Consolidated Financial Statements for the year ended 31st December, 2019 to the Clerk to the National Assembly on 18th August , 2021 was not misappropriation of funds as misrepresented in certain section of both print and electronic media,” “For avoidance of the doubt, the AuGF states ‘The materiality was determined in the context of the likely errors and unsubstantiated balances amounting to N4.97tr noted in the course of the audit which was above the materiality level of N89.34bn set for the audit, among others “.

Reacting to these apparent contradictory statements by the Auditor-General for the Federation, the nation’s prominent Civil Rights Advocacy Group- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has called for an independent forensic probe of the audits submitted by the Auditor-General for the Federation because from the drama that has played out with his affirmation of a lack of balance on the books of the ministries and now the so called clarifications that no cash is missing, what is clear is that the contradictions need to be untangled by a totally independent body of forensic financial auditors going by the empirical facts that mass poverty, collapse of infrastructures and the numerous industrial actions by staff of public ministries due to accumulated wages,  it is apparent that some people are trying to hide the truth about the extent of financial infractions and heists in the federal ministries and agencies  of Government clearly for political reasons. HURIWA said the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration was adept at forcing and coercing enforcement and investigative bodies within government to hide their findings of mind-boggling thefts by the political appointees just so the All Progressives Congress government will appear like a Saint which isn’t the case.

HURIWA recalled that a similar scenario played out not long ago when the EFCC’s Chairman alleged that a serving female minister was caught pantsdown with $20 million USD cash in her bedroom but the same EFCC’S Chairman 24 hours later denied that he said a serving minister was caught but rather that it was the former petroleum minister Mrs Allison Madueke whose matter in any case has become of notorious public knowledge based on the body of information issued by the same EFCC and so the denial of the missing billions by the Auditor-General for the Federation appears like a notorious internal pattern which the government is used to unless and until our fears and allegations of conspiracy to hide the facts are exhaustively investigated publicly.

HURIWA has charged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to invite the Auditor-General for the Federation to render scientifically and accurate audits of the accounts of the Federal ministries because of the yawning gaps between what these ministries claimed to have executed and what’s on ground as evidence of frauds and lack of transparency and accountability.

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