A House of Representatives Committee, has demanded the refund of N73 billion, allegedly released to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for the 2015 general elections,
The House Committee on Public Accounts stated that the extra N73 billion was allegedly released by the Accountant-General of the Federation, AGF, to INEC, for the 2015 elections, against the N45 billion approved for the Commission.
Chairman of the Committee, Wole Oke, and other members, therefore, insisted that the money be refunded to the treasury by the Commission.
The Committee also accused the Accountant-General of the Federation, AGF, of engaging in extra-budgetary expenditure, contrary to the powers conferred on his Office, by approving additional funds for the conduct of the 2015 general elections.
The Lawmakers further asked the AGF to provide a balance of N16.9 billion, from another N36.9 billion approved for INEC by the Presidency, out of which only N10 billion was paid to INEC by the Accountant-General’s Office for the elections.
According to the chairman of the Committee, the approval of N107.7 billion for INEC, as well as the disbursement of the additional N73 billion against the N45 billion budgeted, was an abuse of Office by the Accountant-General, who is in charge of the public treasury.
The Chairman also added that another audit query from the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation, indicated that another N37,428 million, was also withdrawn from the 10 Percent rice milling funds for the election.
“The Accountant-General should explain the direct deduction of the fund from the Federal Government’s account”, he said.
Speaking, a Representative of the AGF, who is the Director of Accounts, Emma Olawale, said that the funds given to INEC were approved by the then President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, in 2014.
Olawale stated that the AGF Office wrote to the Presidency and then Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and got the approval to advance the funds to the INEC Officials.
On her part, the then Acting INEC Chairperson, at the time of the release, Mrs. Amina Zakari, told the Committee that her Office wrote to the Presidency and the Accountant-General’s Office, and got approval for the funds.
She further added that INEC was not mandated by law to refund any fund approved for it for election purposes.
The Lawmakers insisted that the approval of the funds by the Accountant-General’s Office, was in breach of the financial regulations.
The Committee’s Chairman, however, demanded that the request and approval memo of the funds be made available to the Committee.