The House of Representatives in an investigative hearing in Abuja on Monday, has threatened to issue arrests to heads of ministries, departments and agencies for failing to appear at public and investigative hearings.
Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, and Chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts, Wole Oke, gave the warning while also declaring that the names of the erring MDAs would be published in news outlets.
Speaking on behalf of the Speaker, the House Deputy Majority Leader, Peter Akpatason, named the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, and Auditor General of the Federation, Anthony Ayine among others.
He said, “The Public Accounts Committee was purposely included in the constitution because of the strategic and very important role that the committee plays in every parliament all over the world. And any attempt to ignore such a committee, particularly when agencies of government are invited for an important occasion like this, it is a violation of our laws and carries weighty sanctions.
“The House is not pleased with the agencies of government that are not present here today, such as the Central Bank of Nigeria, and the Accountant General’s office as well as the Office of the Auditor General of Nigeria.
“When the MDAs fail to fully adhere to the letters and the spirit of the law, we create the circumstances for our citizens to believe that the actions we take and the priorities that we pursue are not intended to serve the greater good but for the private interests of such persons.”
Wole Oke said the probe was necessary to understand why the MDAs submitted audited accounts late or failed to submit to the Auditor General.
He said, “I have been given the statistics of agencies over the years that have refused to turn in their audited accounts. Do we have to wait on Mr President to intervene, when clearly you (MDAs) have the constitutional mandate (to present their reports). Mr President can only give you a job but he cannot do the job for you. If we like to be MDs or CEOs, why don’t we like to render accounts?
“Despite this workable tripod system for checks and balances, key stakeholders have succeeded in frustrating its smooth operations.
“The danger is that if nothing is done to fix this problem, it will create an incentive for the MDAs to become reckless and non-accountable to any oversight authority.
“Without doubts, the tripod system for checks and balances has not been allowed to work since the enactment of the 1999 Constitution. I partly blame this on the failure of the constitution to prescribe a clear penalty for non-compliance with this provision.
“In such an instance of obvious gap in the law, the National Assembly will be left with no option but to exercise its power of appropriation to allocate nil funds to such MDAs for their failure to account for funds released to them.”