Accountant General queried over N173bn payments without proper records

The Office of the Accountant General of the Federation may have bent financial rules by making a total payment of N173 billion into various government accounts without details of what the funds were meant for, Nigeria’s foremost anti-corruption group said on Monday.

The OAGF has been asked to explain to Nigerians how and why such a the huge sum was paid into different ministries and parastatal without proper schedule on what the funds were meant for.

Unless the OAGF complies, the prospect of a legal prosecution by HEDA may be imminent.

In a letter filed in line with the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 2011, Nigeria’s leading anti-corruption group, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre), in partnership with a data advocacy organisation, Dataphyte, asked the AcGF to within seven days furnish the organisations with full information and disclosure on what the funds lodged between January and April 2020 were meant for.

The Accountant General of the Federation is the administrative head of the treasury, usually appointed by the President for a period of four years in line with the Nigerian constitution.

The office was created in 1988 under the Civil Services reorganisation Decree 43.

The OAGF is responsible for the management of payments and receipts and mandated by law to ensure transparent accounting system.

“One of the cardinal principles of accountability is that payments made by the OAGF into any government account must give details of what the funds are meant for. This is the best global practice adopted by many countries who are committed to the fight against corruption,” HEDA said in the letter signed by its Legal Officer, Rebecca David

On May 29 this year, a media concern, Dataphyte, published a report titled: “N173 Billion Payments Without Description Defeats Nigeria’s Open Government Initiative,” indicating the failure of the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation to properly describe payment made to contractors and government agencies.

HEDA said this was observed in a Dataphyte analysis of data on the Open Treasury Portal, which showed that N173 billion worth of payments between January and April 2020 had no description.

The payments are cumulative records of 1,353 payments to various ministries, parastatals, security agencies, educational institutes, among others.

HEDA also attached details to the request.

HEDA also attached detailed information containing the analysis highlights, date, payment number, payer code, name of organization, name of beneficiary and amount while the purpose and description of each payment was not stated, hence the need for this request.

HEDA noted that the between January 2020 and April 2020, indicated that payments made were not described to capture the purpose or description of the payment urging the Accountant General to provide a comprehensive and detailed description on the payment made within the stipulated period.

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