The Senate has ordered the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) to, without further delay recover all illegal loans totalling N76 billion given to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigerian Army, National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Office of National Security Adviser (NSA), and six other ministries and agencies.
Also to refund to government coffers different amount of unauthorised loans are Federal Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development, Labour and Productivity, Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Defence, Nigerian Communication Satellite Operation (NIGCOSAT) and Revitalization of Universities Infrastructures Account.
The upper chamber gave the directive while adopting the recommendations of its Public Accounts Committee on the 2015 Auditor General of the Federation’s report, which indicated that the said loans released in 2013 and early 2015 did not go through due diligence and without authorisation by the National Assembly.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Mathew Urhoghide, had while presenting the report which was adopted by the Senate before proceeding on its annual recess recently, revealed how the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) collected the said N76 billion from the Office of Accountant General, illegally.
The funds were drawn from 25 per cent Husked Rice Levy, 1 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 and given to the aforementioned MDAs, which had since refused to pay back the said loan.
The report particularly mentioned INEC as receiving N17.92 billion in January, 2015 as loan from AGF to finance the 2015 general election and six years down the lane, the electoral umpire was yet to pay back.
The report also revealed that from the 15 per cent wheat grain levy, a total of N31.4 billion was released to Nigerian Army, National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Revitalization of Universities Infrastructures Account and Federal Ministry of Agric and Rural Development.
The breakdown showed that Nigerian Army got N4.7 billion to fund some of their activities, NYSC collected N6.4 billion to also fund their activities including passing out of corpers at orientation camps, Revitalization of Universities Infrastructure Account received N10 billion for funding of Federal Universities, while Federal Ministry of Agric and Rural Development got N10.2 billion to fund execution of 2013 dry season farming.
The MDAs that benefitted in form of loan from Rice Levy account, which is about N37.4 billion include Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Office of National Security Adviser, Nigerian Custom Service (NCS), Nigerian Communication Satellite Operation (NIGCOSAT).
The breakdown revealed that NIGCOSAT got N450 million, Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity received N5 billion to pay the allowance of unskilled youths in Public works programme, ONSA got N3.5 billion, Ministry of Defence had N428 million while revitalisation of Universities Infrastructure Account received N5.3 billion.
These unapproved loans subsequently resulted in the Auditor General of the Federation (AuGF) issuing two queries to AGF over the mode of disbursing the loan.
The first query from Auditor General of the Federation read, “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 per cent Husked Brown Rice Levy as Loan given to INEC to finance 2015 elections.
“The loan is contrary to the purpose, which the fund was established which is to help local production of brown rice in Nigeria.
The second query also stated, “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 Per cent 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 Annual budget.”
The Senate thereafter ordered the Office of Accountant General of the Federation to immediately set in motion the process for the recovery of the loans and pay back to Special Funds Accounts of the Federation.
It also directed that henceforth, payments from these special funds should be strictly applied for the purpose for their creation while ensuring the stoppage of further withdrawal from these Accounts without a resolution of the National Assembly