Senate Committee on Public Accounts has queried the National Orientation Agency (NOA) over payment of N2 billion as cash advances to some members of staff of the agency which was left unretired.
The Committee also expressed shock over the payment of N129 million cash to some members of staff of the agency instead of paying the money directly into their accounts as stipulated in a circular on e-payment Ref No. TRY/A8&B8/2008 OAGF/ CAD/026/VOL.11/465 dated 22nd October, 2008.
The Senate Committee, chaired by Senator Mathew Urhoghide, anchored the query on the 2016 report of the Auditor- General of the Federation, which was currently being considered by the Panel.
It was discovered that NOA did not attach the vouchers used in spending the N2 billion to the documents submitted to the Committee, as the agency only presented journals to justify the expenditure.
The lawmakers, however, refused to accept the journals. On failure to retire N2 billion, the Director-General of the agency, Garba Abari, who pleaded for more time for the agency to look for relevant vouchers supporting the expenditure, said that he was alarmed when heard the figure.
The officials of the agency were, however, unable to give a cogent response to Senator Nwaboshi’s question.
After much heated debate on the query, the Committee yielded to the request of the Director- General of the agency for more time to address the issues raised in the query.
The Committee, thereafter, adjourned the meeting with NOA till May 27, 2021, to enable the agency to tidy up things and return with proper response.
The query reads, “The following observations were made: – (a) A sum of N1.9 billion being cash advance to some members of staff of the Agency, was left unretired as at 31st December, 2014. In 2015, additional outstanding advances amounting to N108.4 million was recorded, thereby bringing the total to N2 billion.
“The practice of not retiring advances granted to staff contravened the provision of Financial Regulation 1405 which stipulates that accounting officers are responsible for ensuring prompt repayment of all advances by installments or otherwise.