Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation (OAuGF) has said that it took the Office 16 months to ensure records and projects of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) were audited.
It said aside from repeated reminders sent to NDDC, the Commission delayed its response to the outcome of the Audited report beyond the usual 30 days limit before it was eventually submitted to the National Assembly (NASS).
NDDC had earlier faulted the report submitted by the Auditor-General of the Federation (AGF), Samuel Ukura.
The AGF submitted three special reports to the NASS, indicating that N183.7 billion could not be accounted for between 2008 and 2012 audit years.
However, the NDDC described the report as premature and did not follow the ethical standards of accounting profession.
In a statement issued by OAuGF Head of Media and Public Relations, Olawunmi Ogunmosunle at the weekend in Abuja, the special periodic check reports conducted on NDDC was part of statutory mandate of the Office.
Ogunmosunle, said on 9th December, 2011 a request letter with ref. no. 764/90/CONF/VOL.II/94 was sent to NDDC to conduct the periodic check, stating that a similar letter was resent on 15th March, 2012 without response.
According to the statement, on 19th April, 2013another letter with ref. no. 764/90/CONF/VOL.II/96 was written to NDDC stating that their refusal of the exercise was a breach of the Office legal responsibilities.
“It was at that point that the team was reluctantly allowed to commence the assignment on May 6th 2013,” she stated.
The statement reads: “From the foregoing, it is clear that it took the Office 16 months to be allowed to commence the said exercise. The conduct of the periodic checks which involved examination of records and physical verification of projects took seven months to be completed. The delay in the inspection of timely completion of the exercise was caused by the NDDC’s outright restriction of access to vital documents and untimely provision of other documents that were finally accessed by the Auditors.
“The inspection of projects after the paper work by the Auditors was jointly conducted with NDDC Engineers. Therefore, the outcome of the inspection which was reflected in our report should not be a surprise to NDDC since their engineers were expected to have briefed their management after the audit inspections.”
It read further, “On 24th April, 2014, the inspection report was forwarded to NDDC through our letter ref. no. 764/90/CONF/VOL.II/99 in which they were given 30 days within which to respond, otherwise the report, which was acknowledged by them will be duly finalised by the Office.
“72 days from the receipt of the first report, our reminder letter with ref. no. 764/90/CONF/VOL.II/100 was forwarded and acknowledged by NDDC on July 18th 2014. Paragraph 3 of the letter of reminder states thus: ‘Failure to respond to the report will be taken as acceptance to all the issues raised in it and the Office could proceed with further actions.”
Meanwhile, another 30 days of grace was allowed for NDDC to respond. In the letter, it was also stated that failure to respond within the grace period, the Office would finalise the report and forward same to the appropriate authorities.
“On 26th January, 2015, a final reminder letter with ref. no. 764/90/CONF/VOL.II/101 was forwarded to NDDC, allowing an extra 14 days within which to respond again. From the above, a total number of 13 months during which three reminder letters were forwarded to NDDC were without any response.”
However, the Office noted that the periodic check was not meant to witch-hunt any corporate organisation, adding that any law abiding organisation that conducts its activities in a transparent manner should willingly submit its books for audit.
“The way and manner NDDC has violently reacted to the report has put the-would-be staff of (OAuGF), who are to carry out subsequent periodic checks on the Corporation in fear considering the volatile nature of the Niger Delta region,” it said.