The Nigerian Senate has passed a Bill seeking to establish the Federal Audit Service Commission, and also to strengthen the capacity of the Auditor General of the Federation’s office to perform its statutory functions.
The Bill, known as the Federal Audit Service Commission Bill, 2018 (HB. 107), which was passed for concurrence during Thursday’s plenary session, is aimed at several purposes including establishing the office of the Auditor-General for the Federation and provide additional powers and functions to the office; establishing the Federal Audit Service Commission; repealing the Audit Act 1956, the Public Accounts Committees Act; and enacting the Federal Audit Service Bill, 2015.
It provides for a penalty of two years in prison or an option of two million (=N=2m) and in some cases it could be both penalties, while corporate organisations that go against the law would be liable to a ten million (=N=10m) fine including a jail term for the culprits.
And the Chairman of the Senate committee on public Accounts, Senator Matthew Urhoghide told Voice of Nigeria that he is very optimistic that President Muhammadu Buhari would assent to the Bill when it eventually gets transmitted to him.
“I just very much believe that the president in his quest to rid the country of corruption at least as demonstrated by him in the past, he too believes that the country must salvage itself from the cankerworm of corruption. So, if the president has that in mind, he should expeditiously sign this harmonized Bill into law as quickly as possible, because that is the only way we can check corruption in the public service,” he submitted.
Meanwhile, President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki has described the passage of the Federal Audit Services Bill by the National Assembly as a major boost to the fight against corruption, expressing his belief that it would be assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Saraki made the remarks at plenary after the adoption of the conference report on the Bill by the Senate.
He said that the law will ensure the independence for the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation and grant it unfettered access to the books of agencies and parastatals.
“Today is a landmark achievement in the fight against corruption. This law will bring accountability and probity in the finances of the government and the fight against corruption. I must commend all the members of the National Assembly, both the Senate and the House of Representatives. This will go a long way in ensuring the independence of the Office of the Auditor-General and will ensure that the Auditor-General has access to different parastatals and agencies.
“We truly have to block all the various leakages. We have to ensure that we get this to Mr. President to get his assent. We have gone a long way in this administration in our fight against corruption, and it is commendable that the National Assembly members are the sponsors and movers of this very important Bill, which we can see has been outdated for many years. We will continue to play our part in this fight against corruption for the sake our country.”