The Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC) is a coalition of over hundred and fifty anti-corruption organizations whose primary aim is to constructively combat corruption and ensure effective monitoring of anti-graft agencies charged with the fight against corruption and enthronement of transparency, accountability, probity towards the eradication of corruption in Nigeria.
We write to demand for the urgent removal from office and subsequent trial of the Auditor-General, Samuel Ukura, over attempts to conceal and protect officials accused of graft.
Premium Times on September 15, 2014 made public, summary of a 169-page report at the office of the Nigeria’s Auditor General, allegedly indicting a former Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Mr. Stephen Oronsaye, of involvement in a N123billion fraud during his tenure between 2009 and 2010. The report entitled ‘Special Audits of Account of Civil Pensions for the period 2005-2010’, allegedly charged Mr. Oronsaye of unaccounted N52billion monthly pension payments; collection of N1.03billion kickbacks from Pensions Union; cornering of N15.6billion meant for settlement of Death Benefits of pensioners and; transfer of N54billion from 58 untraceable illegal accounts.
However, on September 19, 2014, the office of the Auditor General of the Federation issued a disclaimer of the media reports on pages: 28 (ii) of ThisDay; 51 of The Nation; 60 of Daily Sun and 14 of Daily Trust National Newspapers, denying the indictment of the former head of service, Mr. Oronsaye by the report.
Reaffirming its stand, Premium Times did a follow up story on Monday, 22nd September, 2014, responding to the disclaimer by the Office of the Auditor General by publishing sections of the Report specifically indicting the former head of service. The news medium outrightly lampooned the Auditor General of encouraging corruption and shielding corrupt officers with his rebuttal and outright failure to forward the report in question to the National Assembly, two years after it was produced, though he was required to do so within 90 days by the 1999 Constitution (as Amended).
Given the national embarrassment arising from this development and evidence adduced by Premium Times, CSNAC, in the discharge of her civic duty, under the FoI Act 2011, officially requested for a copy of the report from the Auditor General through a letter dated 22nd of September, 2014. In another flagrant violation of the extant law, akin to Premium Times allegation in its report, the office of the Auditor General failed to acknowledge or avail us copy of the report as provided under the FoI Act.
Now, months after the initial denial of the existence of the report, Premium Times reported on July 19, 2015 that, Mr. Ukura has owned up to the existence of the Audit Report. The AGF’s admission is evident in the letter to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) dated June, 25, 2015 from office of the Auditor General, a copy was availed on the website of premium Times (http://goo.gl/2urRzb) and a copy is herewith attached. The audit report and the letter were purportedly admitted by the Court as Exhibit 296 in the ongoing corruption case against Mr. Oronsaye.
Such a officer as Mr. Ukura cannot and should not be allowed to hold such sensitive position of the Auditor- General of the Federation at this critical point. His actions to conceal and deny the existence report clearly expose breach of oath of office, cowardice, insincerity and professional misconduct. He further violated provisions of the FoI Act on the CSNAC’s request for copy of the Audit Report. The report obviously arose from the work of a Special Audit Team he personally constituted in May 2011 to conduct a comprehensive examination of the accounts of the Civilian Pension Department domiciled in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, a copy of which he failed to forward to the National Assembly within 90 days after its publication:
“In accordance to Section 85(5) of the 1999 Constitution, the Auditor-General shall, within 90 days of receipt of the Accountant General’s financial statement, submit his Report to each House of the National Assembly (The Senate and the House of Representatives) and each House shall cause the Report to be considered by a Committee of the House of the National assembly responsible for Public accounts.
Section 85(6) of the Constitution states that, “in the exercise of his function under the Constitution, the Auditor-General shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other authority or person”.
The Auditor General’s denial of the report’s existence was in clear violation of section 85(6) as stated above. He has pandered to an authority and or person other than the constitution, under an influence unknown to this network. We therefore once again, demand his prompt removal from office as the Auditor General of the Federation, investigation and subsequent trial.
We thank you in anticipation of your swift and decisive action on this matter.