By Ukpe Philip
A forensic audit report has exposed how government officials allegedly stole N11.9bn belonging to the Kwara State Government in eight years between 2011 to 2019.
The report revealed that companies were registered to receive payments for projects that do not exist.
The report which was presented to the State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on Thursday by the SSAC and Professionals, Anthony Iniomoh, exposed shady dealings including N2bn withdrawn a month for the 2019 elections.
The period covers the administration of former governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, of the People Democratic Party.
The report which is in two volumes covers: Internally Generated Revenue; Capital Receipts; Internal and External Loans; Recurrent/Overhead Expenditure; Personnel Cost (Salaries and Wages); Capital Expenditure; Assets Disposed; Kwara State Internal Revenue Service; Infrastructural Fund Kwara (IFK); Harmony Holdings Limited; amongst others.
According to the audit which was revealed in a statement by the state, some public officers received double payments for years.
Iniomoh was quoted as saying “our findings may be necessary for the record. Our forensic audit revealed a colossal pilfering of N11, 981,268,709 which we recommended should be recovered to the public coffers.
“This is especially so in the cases of firms that we observed were paid huge public funds without any evidence of work done on record. In one instance, records show that a firm that was incorporated at the Corporate Affairs Commission on 14th June, 2016 was paid by the state government for a contract it purportedly executed for the state in April of the same year. It became apparent that this was a preconceived attempt to defraud the state.”
There are several cases of infractions arising as a result of obvious conflict of interest and violation of due process.
For instance, the audit revealed, “There was also a cash withdrawal within 8 days of N2.06 billion in February 2019 which was of interest to the audit. However, no documentation was made available to validate the purpose for which the money was withdrawn. There were also several other cash withdrawals within the state over the period running into billions of Naira which we could not validate.
“Furthermore, the audit revealed that loans were obtained by the Kwara State Government within the period under review.
“The elements of these loans could not be validated. Above all, the bank accounts to which these loans were disbursed to and what the loans were used for could not be established or validated.”
The audit recommended prosecution of certain officers and companies in addition to claiming exemplary damages on transactions totaling N6,023,358,444, amongst other.
Also, the audit suggested to the government to prosecute some individuals and firms indicted in the two volume report, while other issues are to be referred to administrative panel of inquiry for some individuals to explain their roles in the many infractions.
Reacting to the report, the state governor said the state would take decisive action and punish offenders.
He said, “We also saw that it has taken a bit of time and I know that there were certain deliberate efforts to obstruct your work. That was why it has taken some time because you have made certain complaints about that and we tried to push those that were supposed to open the doors to make the doors easy for you.
“Your report, like others, will help us to steadily put the state in the right direction to deepen transparency and accountability. We will go through the report fully and look into your recommendations.
“With few things you have said , it is mind-boggling especially withdrawing cash of over N2bn a month to the election and all sorts of infractions that took place. Certainly, we shall progress from here and do the needful.”
Source: The Whistler.