The Enugu State Auditor-General Dr. Okoro Livinus, has queried the Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board (ENSUBEB), the Ministry of Health, and the State Health Board over alleged misappropriation of funds running into several millions of Naira, says the report of the Auditor-General on the Accounts of the Government of Enugu State for the year ended December 31, 2021.
This is just as the report indicted 34 government-owned companies, parastatals and other statutory bodies over failure to submit their audited annual reports to the auditor-general’s office in line with the requirements of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), and the state law establishing those institutions.
According to the 2021 report obtained by SummitNews, while other ministries, departments and agencies queried by the auditor-general over similar financial infractions, had satisfactorily responded to their respective query, ENSUBEB, the Ministry of Health, and the State Health Board, spurned the auditor-general’s query.
For instance, the auditor-general’s query to the Chief Ikeje Asogwa-led ENSUBEB, over alleged misappropriation of N41,966,235.20, from the Local Government Education Area (LGEA) overhead account without approval by the Joint Accounts Allocation Committee (JAAC), was not treated by the board within the period under review.
Also, the report alleged that N1,103,590.00 of the Federal/State Government counterpart fund, was not accounted for.
Besides, N62,014,200.00 generated as revenue from contractors’ registration fee, according to the report, was yet to be remitted into the State Government Internally Generated Revenue Account (IGR) within the period under review.
Furthermore, the report says that the sum of N8,402,354.00 VAT/WHT deducted from JUTECH Construction Company Ltd for services rendered, and N4,369,981.63 PAYE deductions, were yet to be remitted to the Board of Internal Revenue.
It disclosed that N3,150,000.00 10% audit fee deduction was not remitted to the government IGR Account, adding that N6,957.000.00 irregular payment of medical allowance to ENSUBEB headquarters staff was yet to be refunded to the government.
According to the report, N2,343,800.00 approved for the purchase of tyres and batteries, as well as N2,414.000.00 approved for vehicles maintenance, were yet to be accounted for.
It further states that N26,071,736.90 cash advances to staff remained unretired.
In a similar development, the former Enugu State Commissioner for Health Dr. Fintan Ekochin, and the then Director of Administration, Mr. Ngwu Chijioke, were indicted over failure to account for missing vehicle No. BJ621UWN belonging to the ministry which got missing when the two officials carried out what they described as vehicle repair exercise in the ministry.
Mr. Chijioke was also indicted over non-refund of N537.500.00 which he claimed to have paid for the repair of a Hilux Vehicle No. EN 93 A08 abandoned at the mechanic workshop.
The report further stated that the sum of N400.000.00 paid through Dr. Ekochin to DESIRE REAL EFF ALUM & MET SYSTEM LTD for the repair and installation of school’s borehole that was never executed had not been refunded to the state government.
Similarly, the sum of N2,587,000.00 utilized in the procurement of burglary proof at School of Public Health, Nsukka, by the principal and the accountant was not refunded. This is in addition to N22,574,290.00 worth of cash advances not yet retired at the same School of Public Health, Nsukka.
The report further stated that the sum of N800,731.50 generated as revenue from Fixed Fee Ticket (FFT) at the State Health Board/Poly General Hospital, Asata, was not accounted for by the accountant, Mr. Paulinus Eze. This is in addition to N11,552,340.00 generated as revenue which was not remitted into the state IGR account.
Mr. Eze was also accused of not accounting for the sum of N1,944,325,00 generated as revenue from Drug Revolving Fund, while Mrs. Oha Jacinta U, and Mrs. Nwobodo Peace N., failed to account for the sum of N6,449.850.00 collected from “unapproved fees…”
The report further revealed that 34 parastatals, tertiary institutions, boards and government-owned companies established by law, failed to submit for review, their audited annual accounts, some of them for periods ranging between ten and 27 years.
Recall that Section 125, sub-section 3 (a&b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), mandates these bodies to produce their annual accounts for review and comments by the auditor-general.
“The accounts of government companies, parastatals and other statutory bodies established by law which have been in arrears over the years remain worrisome and detrimental to government activities on good governance, financial transparency and accountability,” says Enugu State auditor-general.
In a recent interview with SummitNews, the auditor-general said the Enugu State Government would withhold subventions to government owned companies, parastatals, and other statutory bodies that failed to submit their audited reports in line with the provisions of the 1999 constitution and the Enugu State Audit Law No. 2 of 2021.
Section 125, sub-section 5 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides that the auditor-general for a state, should among other things, “submit his report to the House of Assembly of the state, and the House shall cause the report to be considered by a committee of the House responsible for public accounts.”
In an interview with SummitNews, the Chairman, Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Enugu State House of Assembly, Hon. Chinedu Nwamba, said the House was yet to complete its oversight functions on the government-owned companies, parastatals and statutory bodies with a view to bringing erring institutions to book.
The House is also yet to sanction government officials alleged to have misappropriated public funds put in their care.
See below table of government-owned companies, parastatals, tertiary institutions in arrears of submission of audited accounts.