- We are not signatory to accounts – DPR
A total sum of US$759, 387,755.10 (N273,379, 591,837.00) was illegally withdrawn from the Signature Bonus Accounts belonging to the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), a report of an audit of revenue accounts of the organisation has revealed.
Consequently, the director of the DPR has been queried to provide explanation on how withdrawals from the Signature Bonus Account were recognised in the books of the organisation.
But the DPR said it was not a signatory to government accounts; hence it had forwarded the audit query to the office of the Accountant General of the Federation, which manages funds on behalf of the Federal Government.
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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.
But while revenues accruing from these sources, which run into billions, are expected to be swept to the Federation Account, the audit report indicated that details of the utilisation of the N273billion withdrawn from the Signature Bonus Account of the DPR have not been made known.
Checks by Daily Trust on Sunday indicated that 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OAuGF/GEN.CORR./AuGF, dated February 8, 2019, indicated that the sum of US$469,387,755.10 (N168, 979,591, 836) was withdrawn from the Signature Bonus Account domiciled with JP Morgan Chase Bank between April 10 and April 30, 2015 to an account titled “CBN Autonomous FEM Account,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 titled: “Periodic Checks Report on DPR for the period of January 2014 to December 2017,” a copy of which Daily Trust on Sunday exclusively obtained, amounted to US$290,000.000.00 (N104, 400,000,000.00), was made from the Signature Bonus Account domiciled with JP Morgan Chase Bank in three tranches.
The first tranche of US$ 100,000,000.00 (N36 billion) was made on July 7, 2014 while the second trench 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.
“Furthermore, the Accountant General of the Federation and the Minister of Finance should 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 to 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.
Attempt to speak with the Auditor-General for further clarification on the matter did not yield positive results by press time as several calls put across to his mobile phone line were unanswered.
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