The House of Representatives on Wednesday uncovered about N6 billion unspent funds in the coffers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), saying the commission may have gotten too many budgetary releases to the detriment of other agencies.
The Acting Chairman of the Commission, Mohammed Umar had told members of the House Committee on Financial Crimes that, out of about N32 billion budgeted for the commission for the 2020 fiscal year, about N24.99 billion was released by the government, while about N18.23 billion of the released amount has been fully utilized.
Umar however told the Committee that his Commission was not aware of the provision in the 2020 appropriation which granted them five percent of all monies collected by the Commission from recoveries for administrative purposes.
Umar said “total releases as at September 2020 was N24.99 billion representing 70.8 percent of the total appropriation. The release for personnel cost is N21.98 billion, overhead cost, N2.100 billion and capital of N1.36 billion. Out of the total releases, N18.23 billion representing 74.88 percent has been fully utilised.
“A breakdown of the 2020 performance report shows that N24.99 billion was appropriated as personnel cost for the Commission, out of which the sum of N21.397 billion has been released for the payment of salaries and allowances of staff between January and September, while the sum of N17.603 billion has so far been utilised as at the end of September 2020.
“The sum of N3.6 billion was appropriated for the Commission’s overhead cost in 2020 out of which N2.1 billion has been released as at 30th September. The sum of N1.22 billion has so far been utilised.
“Similarly, the sum of N4.09 billion was appropriated for the Commission’s capital budget out of which the sum of N1.638 billion has been released as at the end of September 2020. The procurement process of the 2020 capital project is still ongoing and the funds will be utilised as soon as the procurement process is over.
“N3.6 billion was proposed for overhead cost in 2020 and N2.1 billion released to you, while a total of N1.2 billion was utilised with a balance of N879 million and we are approaching the end of the year. Don’t you think there is a luxurious supply of funds, thereby denying other sectors getting enough money for their operations?
Some members of the Committee however observed that while other agencies of government were facing financial crisis, the EFCC was having huge unspent funds, even as one of the members, Abdulganiyu Olododo (APC, Kwara) insisted that the Commission must be transparent about how it has expended the money released to it.
Olododo said, “we want details of expenditure by the commission saying as one of the agencies respected and feared in the country, they need to be open and accountable in whatever they are doing.”
Other members of the Committee also observed that spending only N17 billion out of the N21 billion released to the Commission for personnel was a clear indication that the commission had more money with fewer personnel to pay.
Members of the committee also expressed concern over the poor release of capital budget to the agency, saying “If you look at your capital budget, you had a budget of about N4 billion and a release of N1.2 billion. This is one of the cardinal problems we have in this country where you have poor releases for capital
“We are almost at the end of the year and what that means is that you are not sure of getting 80 percent of your capital releases. We have to do something to shore up our capital releases because, without capital, we cannot develop.”
Responding to questions on what five percent granted to the Commission and ICPC from their financial recoveries as approved by the National Assembly and contained in the 2020 appropriation, Umar said “I don’t think that has been approved and we have not gotten anything outside the budgetary allocation and subsequent releases to the commission. The issue of five percent is not really approved as far as we are concerned.
However, Hon. Koko insisted that the Commission was entitled to the five percent from its collections, saying “Mr. Chairman, Appropriation is a law and for you to say it is not there, I will ask the Clark to get a copy of the amended appropriation and I will show you. Maybe you are not aware that the National Assembly approved that EFCC and ICPC be given five percent. There is a clause on that. I was the one that raised the motion then which was approved.”
But the EFCC boss also insisted that the commission was not aware of the provision and has never collected any such money apart from its allocation from the budget.
He said, “If you are talking of five percent in terms of monetary recoveries, I am positive that we have never received the five percent.”
Responding to a question from the Committee Chairman, Abdullahi Ibrahim Dutse (APC, Jigawa) on the approval granted the Commission to employ about 420 staff, he said “we were in the process of carrying out the employment before the Covid-19 set in and everything had to be suspended. That is why we have a balance of about N4 billion in our personnel be budget”.
He listed some of the challenges of the Commission to include the need for special courts to try corruption cases, the need to employ more personnel staff promotion as well as “security for our lawyers who complained that some of them are being kidnapped.”
On the poor releases of capital funds by the government, Umar said “that is something that is beyond our control.”