Saturday, December 5, 2020

$37.6m Audit: Reps To Sanction DG Budget Office

The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts (PAC),  yesterday,  resolved to sanction the Director General of the Budget Office,  Mr Ben Akabueze,  over his response to the Committee’s query on $37.6million audit funds.

The he lawmakers and Akabueze engaged in hot exchange of words on whether the money was released to the Office of the Auditor General or not.

The Committee said Akabueze’s response to its query that he was allegedly withholding $36.1million personnel funds belonging to the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation and another $36.1million personnel funds belonging to the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation and another $1.5million grant to the office was “contemptuous”.

The Committee, which accused the DG of allegedly underfunding the Office of the Auditor General,  stating that it was a breach of sections 15, 16 and 20 of the Procurement Act, stressing  that the alleged non-inclusion of the funds due the audit office in the 2021 budget was a breach of appropriation rules.

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The Committee, at an investigative hearing on Thursday,  also summoned the Accountant General of the Federation,  the Head of Service, the Chairman,  Service Service Commission and the Chairman of the Federal Character Commission to provide evidence of alleged payment of the  $37.6million to the Office of the Auditor  General.

They are also to provide the records of recruitment of additional staff for the Office of the auditor General and evidence that the recruitment, was done in compliance with Federal Character principle.

The deputy chairman of the committee,  Abdulkadir Abdullahi, in motion had accused the DG of “contempt of the House “and breach of his privilege as a member of parliament.

Abdullahi said: “I want to submit that the tone of this letter(response from Dg Budget), is a sort of contempt of the House. We are supposed to call the attention of the Speaker. I want this committee to take action and draw the attention of  Mr. Speaker that our privilege has been breached”.

However,  Akabueze, who refused to retract his letter or apologise to the lawmakers,  said funds meant for the Office of the Auditor General were already captured in  the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF)  earlier submitted to the National Assembly.

“There is no single agency in the government, that is not underfunded. Read your letter. You can stand by your letter. I stand by my letter too. Even the letter to the minister, you alleged that the budget office was deliberately underfunding the office of the Auditor General.

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