Have Prisons, Immigration accounted for alleged N12.6bn fraud?

News recently broke that the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and the Nigeria Prisons Service (NPS) could not account for N12.662 billion they spent in 2015, according to the report of the Auditor General of the Federation. BODE OLAGOKE reports
The audit report obtained showed that Immigration has the largest share of N9.076 billion, and prisons has N3.586 billion.
The report indicated that out of the N9.075 billion unaccounted for by the Immigration service, N4.985 billion was for salary variations, both surplus, and deficit, while N4.087 billion was for other expenses all of which were incurred at the service headquarters in Abuja.
The sum of N3.747 million was incurred by the NIS Training School, Imo State command, the report said.
The report said there were variances of between -0.15 percent and 0.78 percent in the NIS salary records from February to December 2015 using January payment as the base.
The auditor general requested the Comptroller General of NIS to produce all the above mentioned for audit examination.
The report said that the Federal Ministry of Interior had entered an agreement with a company for Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card (CERPAC), but that as at December 2015, physical audit inspection revealed that nothing had been done at the new issuing centres in 28 states commands as envisaged even after the payment of N3.937 billion.

Faulty contract cost
Besides, the actual cost of the establishment of the 28 new issuing centres was not stated in the contract agreement, the report said. Thus, the CG was asked to address the irregularities and account for the total sum already deducted and forward the evidence for audit verification.
The auditor general said N97.372m was sent to 36 states’ commands, zonal offices, and training schools for the year under review, but the corresponding expenditure returns from the states were not made available for audit examination despite repeated requests.
The CG was requested to inform the states to forward the expenditure returns, otherwise, he would account for the amount.
The report said the sum of N20.178m was paid to the personal account of three Immigration officers for the conduct of promotion examination, contrary to E-payment directive as stated in Financial Regulation 631.
The CG was requested to explain and provide evidence that the money was paid to the beneficiaries, otherwise he should recover the amount and forward evidence of recovery for audit verification.
The report observed irregularities in the contract sum of N98.201m for the construction of passport office in Gwagwalada, Abuja.
The CG was asked to explain some defects in the contract, Bill of Quantity items not executed and the lack of transparency in the contract as well as recover the sum of N21.3m and forward evidence of same for audit verification.
The sum of N6.609m was used to sponsor some Immigration officers to workshops in their different professional bodies, contrary to a circular dated January 23, 2009. The CG was to recover the said amount from the affected officers.
Seven officers of the service were granted non-personal advances of N2.828m without retiring same after the execution of the service. The CG was asked to deduct the amount from the salaries of the affected officers.
The report said on May 12, 2015, the Nigeria Immigration paid the sum of N1.854m to fund trips of selected staff of the ministry of interior to attend the United Nations Security Ministerial Open Briefing on Foreign Terrorists Fighters.

Non-adherent to govt rules
However, the auditor general, according to the media reports said the payment was contrary to the government rules forbidding agencies and parastatals from providing naira cover for estacode allowances for ministers, directors-general and/or ministry staff.
“The circular describes these acts as fraudulent, while the chief executive will be held personally and pecuniarily responsible for compliance with such order or request,” the auditor general said and ordered the CG to recover the money.
At the Immigration training school, Imo, the report said there was no supporting documents for the sum of N1.364m paid to the commandant for the “energization” of a transformer to the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
The sum of N2.383m was also paid to an officer for the renovation works carried out on hostel blocks in violation of a circular dated March 24, 2009. The CG was asked to explain the violation of the circular and forward relevant supporting documents. Otherwise, he should recover the said amount and submit recovery particulars.

Missing Arms
The audit examination of Arms Movement Register at the command showed that two unidentified pistols were booked by an officer of Niger State Command in December 2012 and another officer at the Immigration headquarters in June 2011. But arms were said not to have been returned, according to the report.
The CG was asked to cause the affected officers to return the arms and forward evidence of same for verification. If the said officers fail to respond, they should be held responsible for any form of misconduct or abuse of the arms, the auditor general said.

Salary variations
For the Nigeria prisons, the audit report indicated that out of the agency’s N3.586 billion unaccounted fund, the sum of N1.479 billion was for salary variations, while N2.107bn was for other expenses.
The auditor general said: “There were variances in the monthly payment of salary between January and December 2015. The variances were both in surplus and deficit and ranged from -0.87% and 25.65% between February and December 2015, using January 2015 payment as the base.
“The monthly variances are February, N23.414m; March, N38.432m; April, N73.151m; May, N79.899m; June, N157.189m; July, N194.117m; August, N139.286m; September, N136.449m; October, N45.705m; November, N48.329m and December, N543.796m.”
“The CG has been requested to produce the evidence of the receipt of N2.089 billion by the FIRS for audit verification,” the report said.
The report revealed that the sum of N1.8m was added to a contract consultancy fee of N19.8m to cover sundry expenses, describing it as “unacceptable and contravenes the provision of Financial Regulation 415.”
Although the CG was requested to explain the irregular payment and recover the N1.8m, he responded to the query on July 26, 2016, but he “did not give satisfactory answers to the audit queries after verification of the said response,” the auditor general said.
In another contract of N19.8m, a ten percent withholding tax for consultancy service was deducted but that the five percent Value Added Tax (VAT), amounting to N990,000 was not deducted. Again, the CG’s response to a query on the matter dated July 26, 2016, was not satisfactory, the report said.
N58.860m was charged by an insurance broker as premium on Group Personal Accident Insurance policy for the period of January to December 2016, and the amount was approved by the CG, the report said.
A part payment of N10.623m was made but that there was no receipt issued by the broker to acknowledge the receipt of the amount. The auditor general said that it was difficult to accept the payment as a legitimate expenditure against the public fund and requested the CG to recover the N10.623m and forward the evidence accordingly for verification.

It’s a lie– Agencies
But responding in separate reactions to the story, both organizations denied the report saying that no money was missing.
NPS spokesman, Francis Enobore said: “The attention of the authorities of the Nigerian Prisons Service has been drawn to a publication in one of the daily newspapers of December 28, 2017 alleging fraud in the Prisons Service. According to the writer, the Auditor General of the Federation requested the Service to produce documents to explain some expenditures and remittances to the Federal Inland Revenue (FIRS) among others in the 2015 audit report.
On his part, the NIS Public Relations Officer, Sunday James said: “Nigeria Immigration Service under the leadership of Muhammad Babandede, welcomes reportage that are critical in assisting his, administration to right any wrong if observed, and to deliver on the mandate for which he was appointed, the service believe that its records are up to date and even the controversial report by a newspaper on the NIS audit account report for 2015 was going to help the service in no small measure as a prudent and accountable agency of the federal government


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