Senate has accused the Budget Office of the Federation of approving N19 billion to four ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) without proper authorization from the Minister of Finance, as revealed by the Senate Committee on Public Accounts, led by Senator Matthew Urhoghide (PDP, Edo South).
The investigation, which began in October of last year, uncovered the illegal payment of N19 billion to these unnamed MDAs by the Budget Office.
Upon further scrutiny, the Budget Office was unable to provide evidence of approval from the Ministry of Finance before disbursing the funds from the Service Wide Vote to the four federal agencies.
The Budget Office claimed to have requested details from the office of the Auditor General of the Federation regarding the MDAs, but did not present the letter as evidence.
In response, Senator Urhoghide, Chairman of the Committee, noted the absence of the claimed letter and pointed out the failure of the Budget Office to provide approval for the payment of N19 billion to the four MDAs.
As a result, the Senate adopted the report of the Senate Public Accounts Committee, which called for the refund of the N19 billion to the national treasury.
The query by the Auditor General, as stated in the 2016 report submitted to the Senate for consideration, revealed that the payments made to the MDAs were in violation of financial regulations 301 and 302, which require expenditure to be authorized by a warrant issued by the Minister of Finance from the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) for recurrent expenditure.
The payments were allegedly made based on verbal directives from the Director General, which is unacceptable.
The Auditor General called on the Director General to provide evidence of approval from the Minister of Finance or recover the N19 billion from the MDAs, as the payments were deemed improper and illegitimate charges against public funds.