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Reps seeks information on foreign reserves

What is the status of Nigeria’s Foreign Reserves Accounts? The House of Representatives on Wednesday demanded explanation from the Presidency through its Committee on Public Accounts.

The demand followed the confession of the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Ahmed Idris, that he has no idea about the operation of the Foreign Reserves Accounts by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Idris told the House panel that he had no data or information on how much goes into or comes out of the accounts.

The accountant-general spoke during the investigative hearing into the audit queries issued by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation (OAuGoF) on the 2014 financial statement of the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF).

Idris’ revelation followed a query from the Auditor-General of the Federation, Mr. Anthony Ayine, titled: “Non-disclosure of Federal Government and Federation Accounts Foreign Reserves in the financial Statements.”

He was represented by Mr. Bisi Fakowajo.

Ayine in the query said: “It was observed that the value of Federal government and Federation Account Foreign Reserves were not disclosed in financial statements as part of the assets of the federal government.

“The Accountant-General of the Federation has been requested to explain why federal government foreign reserve was not disclosed in the financial statements.”

The AGF, represented by Director, Consolidated Accounts, Mr. Emmanuel Adio, and Director, IPPIS, said the CBN has been directed to provide the details of the foreign reserve in its subsequent financial statements.

He said: “Actually, this was discussed in our previous meeting before this committee and immediately we left here we have written to the CBN for information so that we can put it as an addendum to our financial statement.

“However, our response here says, we noted the observation of the auditor-general of the Federation and it will be disclosed subsequently.

“Presently, we don’t consolidate the accounts of non-Treasury funded. CBN is one of those agencies. This particular foreign reserve will be disclosed by CBN when they are presenting their financial statement but based on the last sitting, in the actual fact, we are not supposed to disclose the account.”

But, dissatisfied with with the response, Committee Chairman Oluwole Oke said: “What you are saying, in your defence, is that statement apt? What you are saying is not lawful. Is it sufficient, why shouldn’t we have the details? What is the status as we speak, what is our position?

“Accountant-General, let me ask you; are you saying it is appropriate for the Chief Accounting Officer not to have a holistic position, an accurate financial view of the financial position of the country? Accountant-General, when last did the CBN render account to you?”

Subsequently, Oke instructed the Ckerk of the committee to write to the presidency and demand an explanation on the status of the account.

The Committee also summoned the Minister for Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, to appear before it to give insight into what the chairman considered an aberration.

The lawmaker said: “The accountant-general should come to avail the committee with the details of the federal government and federation account’s foreign reserves.

“The minister of Finance, the SGF and the CBN are to provide answers to the query since the office of the accountant-general did not provide answers to them.”

Other audit queries treated by the committee include: N2.683 trillion revenue allocation from FAAC in 2014; N34.458 billion deduction at source revenue from distribution of non-oil via Mandate Ref. No: 42730/RS/100/167/DAF dated 16th July, 2014.

There was also N5,199,864,234.84 (one per cent) police reward fund; over-expenditure of N5.5 billion employees compensation; non-funding of N11 billion appropriated for Group Life Insurance; over-funding above appropriation figures to the tune of N42.761 billion, among others.


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