AuGF queries Nigerian diplomats over N248m extra-budgetary spending

The Auditor-General for the Federation, Anthony Ayine, has indicted officials of the Nigerian embassy in Germany of spending N248m without approval from the National Assembly.

This is contained in the 2015 audit report currently being scrutinised by the Senate Committee on Public Accounts.

The AuGF queried the affected officials and wondered why the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2014 failed to abide by the financial regulations and extant laws.

The query read in part, “The embassy (in Germany) overspent its budget for 2014 in 16 subheads, totalling N248,025,564.88.

“This act of over expenditure by the embassy is a virement by the Mission without approval from the National Assembly.

“The Mission, through the Permanent Secretary, has been advised to abide by the provisions of the financial regulations and extant circular, which states that expenditure must be within the amount provided in the subheads.

“It is also necessary that the embassy should explain the source of the extra funds spent.”

However, in its written response to the audit query, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs explained that the embassy did not overspend its budget for 2014.

The response read in part, “Some of the subheads where funds were needed were under-provided for.

“The only fund spent outside the budget was a donation of €5,000 made by Julius Berger Nigeria Limited to the Mission as a gift for the National Day celebration.

“The allocations to sub-heads were not in line with the requirements of the Mission, the costs of services were very high and delayed allocations were grossly responsible for the Mission’s action.

“The Mission could not afford to delay payments for services provided to avoid being blacklisted by the host community.”

The Chairman of the panel, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, sustained the audit query and pointed out that the embassy officials erred by not seeking approval for virement from the National Assembly.

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