Reps summon Ehanire and three others over agencies’ account

THE House of Representatives has summoned four ministers to appear before its House Committee on Public Account.

The ministers are to answer questions on why agencies under them should not be sanctioned for violating extant laws on submission of audited accounts to the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation.

The House also placed the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Lagos; Nigeria Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency; the Nigeria Investment Promotion Council; Radiographers Registration Board; Inter-Country Centre for Oral Health, Root Crop Research Institute, Umudike; Nigeria Natural Medicine Agency and the Lake Chad Research Institute under status enquiry.

The agencies are to reappear before the House committee with their immediate past management teams, the annual budgets and their audited accounts covering the period under investigation.

The House is investigating what it called “deliberate and reckless refusal by non-treasury and partially-funded agencies to render their audited accounts covering the period from 2014 to 2018”.

The ministers summoned are: Dr. Osagie Ehanire (Health); Alhaji Sabo Nanono (Agriculture and Rural Development); Otunba Niyi Adebayo (Trade and Investment) and Senator Gbemisola Saraki (Minister of State for Transportation).

Ms Saraki is to appear alongside the Permanent Secretary in the ministry over the alleged refusal of the Director General of the Nigeria Maritime and Safety Administration (NIMASA) to appear before the committee to explain why it failed to submit the audited reports since 2014 to the Auditor-General.

Committee Chairman Oluwole Oke said the NIMASA management allegedly refused to appear before the committee and frowned at the failure of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to submit up-to-date audited accounts to the appropriate quarters.

Nanono is to appear alongside all agencies in the ministry to explain the delay in constituting boards for the agencies which many of them said was responsible for the non-submission of their audited accounts.

Oke frowned at the refusal of the agencies to abide by the provisions of the law, saying it was not acceptable that for eight years, the NIIA failed to submit its audited accounts, as required by law.

The agency, according to the Office of the Auditor General, last submitted its audited accounts in 2010, a situation, Oke said was very embarrassing.

“You are the gateway to Nigeria. When you go out there, what do you tell your colleagues? For an agency like this, it is very embarrassing.”

Director-General of Inter-Country for Oral Health told the committee that the agency could not submit its audited reports due to the absence of a board to approve them since the last one was submitted in 2006.

He said since the board was yet to be constituted, all the audited reports were submitted to the minister for approval.

But the Nigeria Investment Promotion Council disagreed with the Office of the Auditor General on the submission of its audited reports.

The institute said it had evidence that all reports up to 2017 were submitted but returned by the Auditor General.

Its Director-General, Yewande Sadiku, told the committee that when she assumed office in 2016, she discovered that the agency’s books had not been audited since 2013 and immediately set in motion machineries to carry out the audit which she said took a while to complete.

She explained that the audited report was submitted via a letter dated September 2019, but was returned by the Auditor General who demanded that a soft copy of the report must accompany the submission.

The committee was however no impressed by fact that the reports were submitted late and demanded that all former Chief Executive of the agency should appear alongside the Supervising Minister.

Oke warned the management of NIMASA led by a former member of the House, Dakuku Peterside to stop undermining the House, saying this will be the last time the House will be inviting them to appear, failure which, the Committee will be forced to recommend appropriate sanction against them.

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