Amended audit bill proposes five-year jail, N5m fine for errant accounting officers
If President Muhammadu Buhari gives assent, any accounting officer, who prevents Office of the Auditor General for the Federation (AuGF) from accessing his or her books, will henceforth, get a five-year jail term or N5 million fine or both.
This was the highlight of the Federal Audit Service Bill given concurrence yesterday by the Senate.
The piece of legislation, geared at strengthening the AuGF, had been earlier passed by the House of Representatives.
Senate Leader, Ibrahim Gobir, led debate for the concurrence, which the Red Chamber approved after dissolving into the Committee of Whole.
Chairman, Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, told journalists that the National Assembly was amending the bill for the first time since its enactment in 1956.
The process, which was consummated by the eighth Senate, failed to get presidential assent.
According to Urhoghide, the AuGF is constitutionally mandated to check systemic corruption in Nigeria by auditing expenditure of Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs), drawing powers from Section 85 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
He said: “Office of the Auditor General for the Federation is independent of the Executive arm of government. It relates directly with the National Assembly.
“The second aspect of the bill is the establishment of the Federal Audit Commission to recruit proper staff and ensure discipline and promotion.
“Audit is a very peculiar department, but right now, we have those who did not study accounting being employed in the Audit House, probably for political reasons.
“The Commission will be responsible for recruitment of competent staff that would audit accounts of the over 797 federal agencies.
“The country needs a proper workforce to execute the assignment.”