The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts and the officials of the Office of Auditor-General of the Federation (AGF) have expressed concern over the diversion of over N2.8 trillion from the Petroleum Trust Development Fund (PTDF) through signature bonuses.
The development came yesterday during an interactive session between the parliament and the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation led by Jonah Otunba.
A scrutiny of a report by the Solomon Adeola-led House Committee revealed that an audit examination of the statement of consolidated revenue fund for year ended December 31, 2006 further showed a shortfall in revenue collection worth N81,904,469,177.27 generated by eight agencies.
The committee, during a session, also queried the N94 billion fund that accrued to the ecological account and requested the submission of the mandates as well as inflow and outflow statements for year 2006 to it within four days.
The report obtained by journalists during the session held at the National Assembly also sought answers on the utilisation of multi-million naira grants and donations by several international agencies to many Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for the implementation of specific programmes in the country.
Other members of the committee, including Jatau Auwal and Shehu Sarkin-Noma, specifically queried the rationale behind the diversion of public funds without following due process and recourse to the Minister of Finance and the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation.
The members also queried the unilateral diversion of N250 million for the registration of Galaxy Backbone and an additional sum of N625 million for operational activities; N593 million deducted from N2.5 trillion fund domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria, noting that management of PTDF "used it to finance departments of government for outsourcing programme. The details of the outsourcing programmes were not in the books.
"I agree with the Auditor-General that there are a lot of problems in the Petroleum Trust Development Fund and the account as reported by the Auditor-General has been shrouded in secrecy and that particular account is not made known to us," Adeola said during one of his submissions at the session.
But reacting, Director in Charge of the Signature Bonus Account, Babayaro, however noted that the approval for the release of the PTDF came from the Presidency but only managed by the accountant-general’s office.
Consequently, the committee has summoned the management of the 22 agencies as well as Debt Management Office (DMO) to explain how the monies were sourced and spent.
Responding to sundry questions raised concerning the 2006 audit report, the Accountant-General of the Federation, Jonah Otunba, explained that the OAGF is still expecting responses from PTDF on the queries raised by the office of the Auditor- General.
Making his submission, the Chairman of the Committee directed the Managing Director, Federal Housing Authority (FHA), Terver Gemade, to appear before the committee.
He also threatened that the committee would employ the services of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to ensure the recovery of the loans trapped in liquidated public companies.