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Anti-corruption

Nigeria to get new audit law after 56 years as NASS passes federal audit bill

The Federal Audit Service bill has been passed by both chambers of the National Assembly.

Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation
Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation

The Federal Audit Service bill has been passed by both chambers of the National Assembly.

The bill which seeks to strengthen the office of the Auditor General for the Federation was passed on Wednesday during the plenary of the Senate for concurrence following its earlier passage by the House of Representatives.

The new audit service bill prescribes a five-year jail term or five million naira or both for any accounting officer who prevents the Office of the Auditor General for the Federation from accessing their financial records.

Ibrahim Gobir, Leader of the Senate,  led the debate on the bill.

Also, public accounts committee (PAC) chairman, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, told journalists that the national assembly is amending the country’s federal audit service law fifty-six years after it was enacted in 1956.

During the 8th national assembly, the bill was also passed but failed to receive presidential assent.

According to the PAC chair, the Office is supposed to check systemic corruption in the country by checking all expenditures of ministries, departments, and agencies of government as provided for by Section 85 of the Constitution.

“The Office of the Auditor General for the Federation is independent of the executive arm of government. He relates directly with the National Assembly.

“The Second aspect of the bill is the establishment of the Federal Audit Commission to recruit the proper staff, and ensure discipline and promotion.

” Audit is a very peculiar department but right now, we have those who did not study accounting being employed and working in the Audit House probably for political reasons.

“The Commission will be responsible for the recruitment of proper staff that would be able to audit the accounts of the over 797 federal agencies.

“The Country needs a proper workforce to be able to do that.

“The office of the Auditor General for the Federation was having over 3000 workforces but had reduced to 1200 staff now.

“executive advised him wrongly against it.  His action was at cross purpose with the President who campaigned on the mantra of anti-corruption. We believed that he was not properly briefed, hence he withheld assent then.

According to him, the 9th assembly believe that one of the legacies they must leave behind is to pass the federal audit service bill which will check corruption before it is carried out.

He lamented that the anti-graft agencies had practically taken over the job of the Auditor General for the Federation.

“The Forensic Audit set up for the Niger Delta Development Commission was a violation of the constitution. It is the work of the Auditor General for the Federation.

“The first time we had audit ordinance was in 1956. We have now changed a law that has been in place for over 60 years.

“More powers have been given to the office of the Auditor General for the Federation in the new amendment to the bill.

“The least penalty that we have now in the bill for an individual is five-year imprisonment or a fine of five million or both.

He said the House of Representatives passed N500,000 or two years imprisonment but the Senate rejected it. This is because the penalty must serve the purpose and as a good deterrent. So, the penalty has to be severe.

“For corporate agencies that refused to audit their accounts for years, their fine is N20m, the house had recommended N10m but we disagreed, he stressed.

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