A damning report by the office of Nigeria’s Auditor General has indicted a former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Stephen Oronsaye, over an alleged N123billion fraud perpetrated during his tenure, between 2009 and 2010, PREMIUM TIMES can authoritatively report today.
The 169-page report, entitled “Special Audit of the Accounts of the Civil Pensions”, found Mr. Oronsaye guilty of allegedly presiding over the looting of the nation’s resources during his tenure.
The audit by the Auditor General arose from the work of a Special Audit Team constituted by the Federal Government in May 2011 to conduct a comprehensive examination of the accounts of the Civilian Pension Department domiciled in the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation.
The audit, which covered the period 2005 to 2010, uncovered monumental financial irregularities, opaque transactions, irregular and abnormal running costs, and outright stealing and kick-backs said to have reached its zenith during the 18 months that Mr. Oronsaye served as Head of Service.
The Auditor General’s office, insiders say, completed its assignment and submitted its report to government in 2012. But no action has been taken to bring all those indicted to book.
This newspaper understands that there is a high-level lobby at the highest reach of our government to suppress the findings and allow those found culpable to enjoy their loot.
While allegations of massive corruption hangs around his neck, Mr. Oronsaye remains very close to President Goodluck Jonathan, with unhindered access to the presidential villa.
He also continues to occupy some of the most important positions in the country. He is, for over 10 years now, chairman of the Presidential Committee on Financial Action Task Force [FATF] and is board member of both the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation [NNPC] and the Central Bank of Nigeria [CBN], the two public organisations widely considered the most lucrative in the country.
Although top government officials are working hard to suppress the damning report, PREMIUM TIMES has now scooped its content for you. And it was simply shocking and mind-boggling.
The report found that the pension payroll was never subjected to internal audit between June 2009 and December 2010; and that the over N52billion paid as monthly pension under Mr. Oronsaye’s reign remained largely unaccounted for. The payments, auditors say, were not presented for internal and federal audits for prepayment audit as required by Nigerian financial regulation.
The examination also documented evidence of payment for goods running into hundreds of millions of naira that were not supplied. For instance, about N700million was paid to 223 different contractors for store items. However, no payment vouchers were available for inspection as the investigators carried out their assignments. The payments were also not recorded in the cashbook, leading auditors to conclude that since store receipt vouchers could not be traced, the items were most probably never supplied.
Equally tainted with financial irregularities, the report says, was pension remittance to states and industrial unions during Mr. Oronsaye’s reign. A serious infraction was detected in the payment of N2.08billion check-off dues to the Nigerian Union of Pensioners in 2009 and 2010. When auditors computed and analyzed the figures in accordance with the mandatory one per cent deducted from statutory pension allocations, they found that N1.03bn was overpaid. The report alleged the amount was passed to Mr. Oronsaye as kickbacks.
The auditors also expressed shock at the absence of a single receipt from any state government acknowledging the payments purportedly made to them as five per cent federal government contribution and reimbursements. Consequently, there was no single shred of evidence to indicate that these remittances were actually made, the report said.
Robbing the dead and litany of secret accounts
Even more damning was the revelation that the N15.6billion released by the Federal Government for the settlement of death benefits of deceased civil servants in July 2010 could not be accounted for.
Checks by this newspaper suggested the money was moved to an illegal account in Federal Secretariat branch of Union Bank. The account, we learnt, was personally operated by Mr. Oronsaye and managed by his sister in-law. The funds, those who should know said, were placed in an interest-yielding account with the bank without any document to indicate how much was agreed upon as interests.