The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts, on Tuesday, grilled the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr Ahmed Idris, and a former acting Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Mrs Amina Zakari, over the approval and disbursement of additional N73bn for the conduct of the 2015 general elections.
The committee queried the powers of the accountant-general to approve N107.7bn for INEC for the conduct of the polls against the N45bn threshold approved for such by the Budget Office of the Federation.
The lawmakers also asked the AcGF to provide a balance of N16.9bn from another N36.9bn approved for INEC by the Presidency, out of which only N10bn was paid to the commission by his office for the elections.
The Chairman of the committee, Mr Wole Oke, and some members stated that the approval of N107.7bn and the disbursement of the additional N73bn, against the N45bn budget of the commission, which the lawmakers described as a gross abuse of the Office of the Accountant-General, who is in charge of public treasury.
Oke said, “The accountant-general should explain the direct deduction of the fund from the Federal Government’s account.”
The AcGF, who was represented by the Director of Accounts, Mr Emma Olawale, however, told the committee that the funds were released to INEC with the approval of the then President Goodluck Jonathan in 2014.
Olawale said the OAGF wrote to the Presidency and the then Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and got the approval to release the fund to INEC.
Zakari also told the committee that the commission wrote to the Presidency and the Accountant-General’s office, and got approval for the funds.
She said the electoral umpire was not mandated by any law to refund any money already approved for election purposes.
Meanwhile, the Comptroller-General, Nigeria Customs Service, Col Ahmed Ali (retd.), on Tuesday faulted the claim by the Accountant-General of the Federation that the N38.6bn released to the service in 2014 was a loan.