FG uncovers N27m scam in defence ministry – ICYMI

The Federal Government’s annual Audit Report has revealed that the Federal Ministry of Defence had financial irregularities of more than N27m in some of its vouchers for the 2016 fiscal year.

The report from the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation, titled, Auditor-General’s Annual Report on the Accounts of the Federation of Nigeria 2016, and obtained by our correspondent, showed that there were irregularities totaling N20m in the National Planning Committee of the 2017 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration.

The report also said there was N7m in irregularities in the Minister of Defence’s trip to the United States of America on March 28, 2016, to attend a nuclear summit organised by the United States of American’s  Government.

The report also said there was N7m in irregularities in the Minister of Defence’s trip to the United States of America on March 28, 2016, to attend a nuclear summit organised by the United States of American’s  Government.

The AGF report stated, “During the audit examination of payment vouchers raised at the Ministry of Defence Headquarters, Abuja, it was observed that 16 payment vouchers for sums totalling N11,160,340 were paid to 15 officers of the ministry between May and December, 2016 to undertake various services such as printing of documents, purchase of stationery, renovations and repairs of offices, furniture, equipment, vehicles, etc. However, audit examination revealed the following irregularities:

“The sum of N20,311,838 was paid to an army officer vide payment voucher No. 5014 dated October 17, 2016, for the inauguration of the National Planning Committee for year 2017 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration. Further scrutiny of the voucher revealed the following; one, the payment was made directly to the officer and not as cash advance and therefore, not properly accounted for on completion of the assignment.

“Secondly, the details and cost breakdown of the activities constituting this expenditure were not made available to authenticate the genuineness of the expenditure.

“Three, all relevant supporting documents such as receipts, invoices, store receipts, vouchers, etc, were not attached to the payment voucher, contrary to Financial Regulation 603(i) which states that “All vouchers shall contain full particulars of each service, such as dates, numbers, quantities, distances and rates, so as to enable them to be checked without reference to any other documents and will invariably be supported by relevant documents such as local purchase orders, invoices, special letters of authority, time sheets, etc.”

The Auditor-General of the Federation’s report noted that it had asked the permanent secretary to comment on the infractions and produce the relevant documents but no response had been received yet as of the time of the report.

The report continued, “Payment voucher No. 1154 of March 24, 2016 for the sum of N7,422,482, was raised and paid in favour of a staff to procure international travel tickets for the Honourable Minister of Defence and others to enable them to travel to the United States of America from March 28, 2016, to attend the Nuclear Summit organised by the US Government and a meeting of the Nigeria–USA Bi-National Commission in Washington.

“Scrutiny of the payment voucher revealed the following; one, the amount was paid directly to the officer instead of the travelling agency which issued the ticket. This has thus resulted in a loss of 10 per cent Withholding Tax and Value Added Tax revenue. Besides, there is no evidence that quotations were received from three reputable travelling agencies for comparison and evaluations before the fare was arrived at, as required by extant regulations.

“Also, receipts, invoice and other relevant supporting documents were neither attached to the voucher before payment nor produced for audit verification. This expenditure is therefore un-receipted and illegitimate. There was no letter of invitation or any document attached to the voucher to indicate the duration of the meetings. The Permanent Secretary was requested to comment on these infractions, and produce the relevant documents for examination.”

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