Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has raised eyebrow over the N2.2 billion expenditure collected by the Federal Ministry of Justice, between 2017- 2021 from the Service Wide Votes (SWV) that remains unaccounted for.
The Senator Matthew Urhoghide-led Senate Committee on Public Accounts is currently investigating over 200 agencies that benefited from Service Wide Votes, between 2017-2021 which is about N5 trillion.
A Service Wide Vote (SWV) which is also known as the Consolidated Revenue Fund Charge is more or less the country’s contingency fund in the annual budget.
Investigation revealed that the Service Wide Votes (SWV) collected by the Ministry of Justice was not subjected to the scrutiny of the Office of Auditor General of the Federation and was not also privy to the Senate Standing Committee mandated to oversight the agency.
At the investigative hearing, members of the Committee on Public Account were surprised when the line item in the money collected from the Service Wide Votes in 2019 for Capital project was put as “Critical Needs,” according to the Authority to Incur Expenditure (AIE), produced by the office of Accountant General of the Federation.
Members of the Committee were disturbed about the N650 million earn which was marked for the “Critical Needs’ in the line item under Capital expenditure.
Surprisingly, in the record of the Ministry, there was nothing that revealed that N650 million was received, but the AIEs from the Office of Accountant General of the Federation revealed that N650 million was released for the Ministry for ‘Critical need’ for Capital expenditure in 2019.
In addition, N955 million via AIEs was released to the.Ministry from SWV in 2017, but the record made available by the Ministry showed N549 million which showed a difference of N406 missing .
In 2018, the Ministry claimed to have received N492 million, but the releases from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, showed that N591 million was released which showed that N99 million is yet to be accounted for.
In 2019, the record from the Accountant General Office showed that the Ministry collected N650 million under Capital project with line item of ‘Critical need’, the Ministry failed to produce record that backed up the N650 million.
In the 2020, the record showed that the Ministry collected N62 million for recurrent, just as in 2021, N1.4 billion was released from the Office of Accountant General through AIEs for recurrent expenditure, but the, Ministry claimed to have received N400 million.
The Ministry was unable to present the letters of request and approval for the money collected from Service Wide Votes.
On her part, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry , Mrs. B.E Jeddy said that the Ministry will search for the relevant documents and present to the Committee on November 10.
The Chairman of the Committee, speaking during the hearing, said that the fund was not audited by the Auditor General, because they are not budgetary provision.
According to her, it was not audited by the Auditor General at all because there are no budgetary provision.
The Permanent Secretary assured the committee to engage relevant departments that benefited from the fund and feed the committee back.