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CBN Gets Query Over N596b Ecological Fund

BY MARY KUYE

Senate Matthew Urhoghide, the Chairman Senate Committee on Public Accounts has mandated the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) to explain disbursements from the Ecological Fund from 1999 to 2015, totalling N596 billion.

Urhoghide gave the directive in Abuja on Thursday during a public hearing on the 2015 report of the Auditor General of the Federation.

Auditor-General of Federation, Anthony Ayine report states that the sum of N596,137, 481,709.94 accrued to the Ecological Fund accounts from June 1999 to December 2015.

Ayine had accused that N596 billion was deducted from the Federation Account and transferred to the Ecological Fund Account during the period.

The Auditor-General also faulted the “Non-Establishment of an Agency to administer the Ecological Fund” as provided for in the Revenue Allocation Act.

Senator Urhoghide, however, asked the representative of the CBN and the AGF, Ahmed Idris to explain details of disbursements from the Ecological Fund domiciled in the apex bank.

The Senate also summoned the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, to appear before it to explain the management of the fund.

The Auditor-General’s report reads in part:  “Our audit revealed that amount totalling N596,137, 481,709.94 were deducted from the Federation Account to Ecological Fund between June 1999 and December 2015.

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“Meanwhile, contrary to the provisions of Section 5(4) of the Revenue Allocation Act which requires that an agency be established to manage the fund, no agency had been established.

“Currently the National Committee on Ecological Problems (NCEP) is the body responsible for handling ecological problems in the country.

“This Committee is located in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation  (SGF) and its Chairman is the Honourable Minister for Environment, Housing and Urban Development.

“This observation has been a subject of Auditor-General’s report over the years without a positive response.”

The AGF in his response told the lawmakers that the fund is domiciled in the CBN.

On its part, the CBN said that they are not ready with the statement of account of the Ecological Funds account and pleaded with the Committee to give them time to submit the report for consideration.

The Chairman of the Committee thereafter demanded the appearance of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation adding that the apex bank should furnish the Committee with the statement of Account on the Ecological Fund.

According to Urhoghide, “the Central Bank should come and furnish us with statement of account of the Ecological Fund. The SGF should come and brief us on the statement of account of the Ecological Fund.”

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