Abubakar Malami

The Senate Public Account Committee has started investigating the N2.2bn unaccounted expenditure allegedly collected by the Federal Ministry of Justice between 2017 and 2021 from the Service Wide Votes Punch reports.

The Committee is currently going through the records of over 200 federal agencies that benefited from the more than N5trn that accrued to the Service Wide Votes, between 2017 and 2021

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The SWV, also known as the Consolidated Revenue Fund Charge, is the country’s contingency fund in the annual budget.

The amount, allegedly collected by the Ministry of Justice, based on the information available to the Senate Panel, was not subjected to the scrutiny of the Office of the Auditor General for the Federation.

It was also not made available to the Senate Standing Committee mandated to oversight the agency.

Members of the panel, at its last sitting on Friday, expressed surprise to see a line item in the money collected from the Service Wide Votes in 2019 for capital project, simply put as “Critical Needs”

This is contained in the Authority to Incur Expenditure, a document produced by the office of the Accountant General of the Federation.

The Committee members specifically queried the N650m earmarked for the “Critical Needs” in the line item under capital expenditure.

However, there was nothing in the record of the Ministry that revealed that N650m was received.

The AIEs from the Office of Accountant General of the Federation showed that N650m was released for the Ministry for “Critical need” for Capital expenditure in 2019.

It was further discovered that N955m, as shown in the AIE, was released to the Ministry from the SWV in 2017, but the record made available by the Ministry showed N549m.

That means that the sum of N406m was missing from the funds collected by the Ministry.

The document added that in 2018, the Ministry claimed to have received N492m but the releases from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation showed that N591m was made available to it.

The record indicated that N99m had yet to be accounted for.

Part of the document read, “In 2019, the record from the Accountant General Office showed that the Ministry collected N650m under Capital project with line item of ‘Critical need’, the Ministry failed to produce record that backed up the N650m.

“In 2020, the record showed that the Ministry collected N62m for recurrent.

“Finally, in 2021, N1.4bn was released from the Office of Accountant General through AIEs for recurrent expenditure, but the Ministry claimed to have received N400m.

“The Ministry was unable to present the letters of request and approval for the money collected from Service Wide Votes.”

However, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mrs B.E Jeddy, said the Ministry would search for the relevant documents and present to the Committee on November 10.

The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, in his ruling, said the fund was not audited by the Auditor General of the Federation because they were not budgetary provision.

He said, “It was not audited by the Auditor General at all, they are not budgetary provision, go and tell everyone that benefited from it and give us the necessary documents.”

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry assured the committee to engage relevant departments that benefited from the fund and feed the report back to the Senate panel.

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