The Senate has queried the Budget Office over extra-budgetary expenditure to the tune of N151billion without recourse to the National Assembly.
The Senate investigation was premised on the 2016 Audit Report submitted to the National Assembly by the Office of Auditor Of the Federation.
The Senate Committee on Public Accounts led by Senator Mathew Urhoghide, however, discovered that the Budget Office in its defence claimed that the N151 billion reported in the Auditor-General Report was neither received nor spent by the agency.
The Budget Office in its written response said, ” the N151 billion reported in the Auditor-General Report was neither received nor spent by the Budget Office. Hence the figure was not recorded in the relevant Budget Office books.”
The Auditor-General Office reports which were upheld by the Senate Committee noted that the spending was in breach of the provisions of the Constitution which stipulates that no money could be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund without the approval of the nation’s Parliament.
The Office Auditor General query read in part: “The Budget Office of the Federation expended the sum of N151,371,407,619.10 (One hundred and fifty-one billion, three hundred and seventy-one million, four hundred and seven thousand, six hundred and nineteen naira, ten kobo) above its approved budget for the year 2015.
“This was extra-budgetary spending incurred without recourse to the National Assembly, in contravention of Section 80(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) which stipulates that “no money shall be withdrawn from the CRF of the Federation except to meet expenditure that is charged upon the Fund by this Constitution or where the issues of those monies have been authorized by an Appropriation Act, Supplementary Appropriation Act or an Act passed in pursuance of Section 81 of this Constitution”. In view of this, it is difficult to accept the extra-budgetary expenditure of N151,371,407,619.10 as a proper and legitimate charge against public funds.
“The Director-General should furnish necessary approval(s) and warrants for the sum of N151,371,407,619.10 to my Office for audit verification.”
Checks revealed that the Budget Office failed to appear before the Committee to clarify the allegation raised by the Auditor-General as the invitation extended to the agency was not honored.