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Audited accounts: Senate spits fire as HoSF, Customs CG, others shun invitation

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The Senate Chamber

Senate Public Accounts Committee, SPAC, has warned that it would no longer tolerate a situation where the ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs of federal government would continue to shun invitation to appear before it over queries issued them by the Auditor General of the Federation, AuGF.on the alleged infractions in their audited accounts from 2015.
In a blunt remarks by chairman of the committee, Senator Mathew Urhoghide (PDP Edo South) during a meeting with some of the heads of the MDAs in Abuja, particularly slammed the Acting Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs. Folashade Yemi-Esan; Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, NIS; Col Hammed Ali (rtd); Central Bank Governor, CBN, Godwin Emefiele and some others over their refusal to honour invitation of the committee.
Consequently, the chairman ordered the absentee heads of government agencies to appear before it unfailingly tomorrow, February 13 at 2pm.
The committee had in line with Section 85 of the 1999 constitution, invited heads of 14 federal agencies to appear before it over queries issued them by the AuGF.
But at the investigative session, only six out of the invited heads of 14 agencies, honoured the invitation which infuriated the committee members.
In expressing their displeasure, the chairman of the committee said: “For those agencies that are already talking of representatives, please it is not going to be allowed.
“You will go back and tell your principals [to come], because we are going to subordinate you to oaths and anything you tell us, tomorrow if anybody decides to go to court, for people to have proper justification and evidence to show that you came before the National Assembly with what you said.
“So if you are going to answer these queries through proxies, it is unacceptable. Tell your heads that they should be here because there are serious consequences that have been earmarked in our financial regulations.
“If you spend money without authorization and the regulation says you should be removed from office, that is what we are going to tell the president of this country and the executive must comply. So nobody is going to shave anybody’s  head in his or her absence.”
The chairman specifically descended on Customs Controller of Accounts, I. S. Ibrahim when he said his boss may not honour the Thursday session due to other engagements by pointedly telling him that Hammed Ali must honour the invitation.
“Will your boss be engaged for ever with whatever made him not to be here personally today. In any case, he must be here on Thursday along with heads of other agencies like that of the CBN who are not here today,” he thundered.
He added that it is the  duty of the committee to ensure accountability and transparency in spending public funds.
“As the chairman of this committee, I am not going to subordinate myself to any other interrogation or excuse by any agency of the government. What has to be done has to be done here,” he stressed.
The other affected agencies are the office of the Head of Service of the Federation; Accountant General of the Federation, AGF; Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR; Federal Inland Revenue Services, FIRS; Debt Management Office, DMO; Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC; National Bureau of Statistics, NBS and Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulation Agency, PPPRA.
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