…Accountant General keeps mum
Following a query issued the Director, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) Mr. Mordecai Ladan over the withdrawal of $759, 387,755.10 (N273,379, 591,837.00) by the Auditor General of the Federation, the Manager Public Affiars Mr Paul Osu has denied withdrawal from accounts of the Department by former and current Directors.
Mr Osu in reaction to an enquiry by Nigerian NewsDirect stated in a text message that the DPR was statutorily a revenue collection agency and did not have any account .He noted that all government revenues collected by the Department were paid into the TSA account. “DPR is not a signatory to any government account and does not manage accounts for government,” he added. He said: “As you may be aware, government units are managed by the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, so the story is false and misleading,” he affirmed.
When Nigerian NewsDirect further asked how the revenue collected were managed before TSA, Osu explained that even before TSA, DPR has never managed account for revenues. “All receipts are channelled to government accounts,” he added.
The DPR is responsible for collecting revenue on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria on oil royalty, gas royalty, gas flared penalty, concession rentals, as well as miscellaneous oil revenue.
The audit report indicated that details of the utilisation of the N273billion withdrawn from the Signature Bonus Account of the DPR have not been made known.
The audit was carried out by a team of auditors on periodic checks from the Office of the Auditor General for the Federation (OAGF) for the period of January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2017. The single paragraph report with reference number: OAuGF/GEN.CORR./AuGF, dated February 8, 2019, indicated that the sum of US$469,387,755.10 (N168, 979,591, 836) was withdrawn from the Signature Bonus Account domiciled with JP Morgan Chase Bank between April 10 and April 30, 2015 to an account titled “CBN Autonomous FEM Account, Garki, Abuja, Nigeria.” The second withdrawal, according to the report entitled: “Periodic Checks Report on DPR for the period of January 2014 to December 2017,” amounted to US$290,000.000.00 (N104, 400,000,000.00), was made from the Signature Bonus Account domiciled with JP Morgan Chase Bank in three tranches. The first tranche $100,000,000.00 (N36 billion) was made on July 7, 2014 while the second tranche amounting to US$40,000,000.00 (N14, 400, 000,000.00) was made on February 19, 2015. The third tranche, according to the report, amounting to US$150,000,000.00 (N54 billion), was made on May 8, 2015 via the Standard Chartered Bank to First Bank, Nigeria in favour of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF). But rather than being swept to the Federation Account, the transactions bore the description, “Being funds released to PTDF for execution of critical project.” “No explanation was provided on these withdrawals as the DPR claimed that it had no control over withdrawal from the Signature Bonus Account; though it accounts for such withdrawals in its cash book,” the report said. The Periodic Checks Report signed by the Auditor General for the Federation (AGF), A.M. Ayine, requested the director of the DPR to provide explanation on how withdrawals from the Signature Bonus Account are recognised in the books of the organisation. Similarly, the Accountant General of the Federation, the Minister of Finance and the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) were requested to produce the authority to transfer funds from the Signature Bonus Account to any other account rather than to the Federation Account.
Efforts made to get reaction from the Accountant General of the Federation Mr Ahmed Idris proved abortive. There was no response to text messages sent to his phone number.
The Accountant General of the Federation and the Minister of Finance were required to provide details of the utilisation of the US$759, 387,755.10 withdrawn from the Signature Bonus Account,” the report stated. Query not meant for us – DPR the DPR has absolved itself from the audit query, saying it was not meant for them but for the office of the Accountant General of the Federation. The manager, Public Affairs of the organisation, Paul Osu, admitted that they got the query from the office of the Auditor General for the Federation “but it was not meant for us, so we forwarded it to the office of the Accountant General.” “We are a revenue collection agency; our jobs are revenues that are statutorily within our purview to collect. We collect and channel to government account, so it is not a DPR account; it is government account. How the funds are disbursed, who signs for it is not within our purview. Those funds are managed on behalf of the government by the office of the Accountant General of the Federation. So when we got that query we spoke with the Auditor General’s office and he advised us to forward it to the Accountant General’s office; they are in a best position to speak on the matter. “We are not signatories to those accounts; all government accounts are managed by the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation,” Osu said.