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The National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services and the Nigeria Institute for Oil Palm Research failed to provide evidence of how they spent about N350 million, an audit report has said.

They have also not been able to meet their financial targets over the years, the report revealed.

The disputed funds, from both contracts awarded and staff welfare at the agriculture liaison service was valued at N93.9 million while that of oil palm institute sums to about N256 million.

In the report for the year ended December 2017, the Auditor-General of the Federation (AuGF), Anthony Ayine, said the observation was made during the review of the accounts of the agricultural organisations.

He said the inability to provide evidence of payment is a “loss of public funds.”

The 2017 report, released recently, is the latest by the auditory general’s office.

Breakdown

According to the report, ₦33.4 million was reportedly paid to a contractor in two instalments on March 27 and 28, 2017 from capital vote for National Extension Awareness Training and Agricultural Extension Community Research, without evidence of work done.

Also, the agricultural extension firm was found guilty of granting cash advances above the approved threshold.

It said cash advances totalling N60.4 million were granted to staff to procure supplies whose values were above N200,000 threshold.

“All accounting officers controlling expenditure are to ensure that all local procurement of stores and services costing above N200,000.00 shall be made only through award of contracts and local purchase order,” the report noted.

Similarly, it said 423 payments totalling N210.9 million were made without payment vouchers and internal audit checks at the oil palm research firm.

The report said there was no evidence that the contracts were executed.

Illegal

These actions, the audit report stated, violate the Financial Regulation 708 which states that “on no account should payment be made for services not yet performed or for goods not yet supplied.”

Also, this is contrary to Financial Regulation 2302 (i) which states that “on no account shall special imprest or cash advance be used in place of Local Purchase Order (LPO) or job order for the procurement of stores locally,” the report added.

Palm trees used to illustrate the story Palm trees used to illustrate the story

The report also explained that in a letter with Ref. No. OAuGF/EIAD &SD/FMARD/NIFOR/2018/2 dated April 30, 2018, the executive director of the oil palm firm claimed that “no payment was made without raising payment voucher and advised that the vouchers in question be attached.”

The report said the director, however, failed to address the issues raised.

Loss of public funds

Also, the agricultural extension director’s response dated October 14, 2018 failed to satisfactorily prove that the contracts were executed, the report noted.

“Also, the Executive Director is required to recover and pay back to Government coffers the sum of N33.4 million and forward evidence of recovery to my office for authentication,” the auditor said referring to the agricultural extension services.

It said the violation of Financial Regulation 2303 has led to loss of revenue due from VAT and withholding tax in the sum of N6 million.

“The Executive Director is requested to recover the lost revenue of N6 million occasioned by his failure to comply with the above extant laws,” it added.

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After the unsatisfactory response of April 2018 by the executive director of the oil palm institute, the report stated that the observed anomalies were further communicated to the executive director through the audit Inspection Report Ref. No. OAuGF/EIAD&SD/FMARD/NAERLS/2018/2 dated August 14, 2018.

“No response was received,” it noted.

Also, it said N30 million was realised as revenue in 2017 without raising payment vouchers by the oil palm institute.

Also, the dates and venues of the various trainings/capacity building and lists of participants trained were also not produced, the report noted.

“Meanwhile, cash advances amounting to N15.6 million granted to staff in year 2017 were not retired as at time of this audit in March 28, 2018.

“This is contrary to Financial Regulation 1420 which states that it is the responsibility of all accounting officers to ensure that all advances granted to officers are fully recovered.”

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