The fuel subsidy probe report hitting at its first victims

By Ifeanyi Onuba
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria may this week constitute a panel to investigate Akintola Williams and Company, and Adekanola and Company, two accounting firms indicted by the House of Representatives’ audit report on the payment of fuel subsidy.

 A top official of the institute confirmed the development to our correspondent on Sunday.

The source, who did not want to be named because he was not permitted to officially speak on the matter, said once the panel could establish that both firms had a case to answer, the issue would be referred to the accountants’ tribunal.

He said, “What we normally do when we have this kind of reports against our members is to set up an investigative panel to establish whether the firm has a case to answer.

“It is this panel that will find out whether the firm has committed a breach, and when this is established, the panel then refers the case to the accountants’ tribunal.”

The Federal Government on Saturday terminated the services of the accounting firms for negligence during the certification of the documents and claims of marketers before payment.

The move, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Finance, became imperative following concerns raised about the management of the subsidy.

The statement said the ministry had within the last two months reviewed    aspects of the implementation of the subsidy regime related to its functions.

The review, it noted, had produced a lot of useful details on what went wrong with the system and what needed to be done to ensure improvement.

It said the review process commenced in February when the ministry and relevant government agencies held a meeting with bankers and marketers at the instance of President Goodluck Jonathan.

This, it said, was followed by a subsequent session with the accounting and auditing firms to re-evaluate their work.

But the full fuel subsidy probe report, which was obtained on Sunday by our correspondent, said both accounting firms “contributed little to the veracity of the exercise.”

It added, “Indeed, during the interaction with members of the committee, it became obvious that the firms neither had adequate knowledge of procedure measuring products in a vessel before and after nor did they demonstrate professional care expected of their standings in auditing markers’ claim based on quantity, exchange rate and crude price.

“This carefree attitude could hardly explain beyond an interest of participating in a bazaar and collecting N275, 000 per vessel.

“Surprisingly, the loophole of non-availability of reliable data on quantity of imported products or any other relevant information could not be salvaged by these firms.”

Punch Newspapers

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