The Director-General of the National Council for Arts and Culture, Olusegun Runsewe, failed to explain why he spent N5.6 million to buy a car without certification from the agency’s transport officer and auditor.
This is one of several cases of irregularities cited by the 2017 report of the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.
The car procurement was made shortly after Mr Runsewe assumed office in 2017.
The report by the office of the Auditor-General, which reviews records of the country’s accounts for that year, said the agency stated that it bought the Toyota Matrix saloon car on May 3, 2017.
But there were no supporting documents attached to the payment voucher such as receipts, invoices, SRV, SIV, the company’s request letter for payment and minutes of the Tenders’ Board meeting.
The report stated that not only was the car’s price above the approval limit of the director-general, its purchase was also not recorded in the Council’s Assets Register or budgeted for in the 2016 approved budget and estimates.
According to the audit report, this is a possible occurrence of waste and diversion of funds for personal use.
To this end, the Auditor-General, Anthony Ayine, called for Mr Runsewe to be sanctioned, in line with section 3129 of the Financial Regulation.
The section states: “Any officer who violates any other provision for which no sanction is specifically recommended, shall be taken to have committed gross misconduct and shall be disciplined accordingly.”
Shady contract awards and payments
The audit report also raised concerns about irregularities in contract awards and payments at the agency.
On May 2, 2017, it said N44.3 million was paid directly to a contractor for the construction of National Research Centre in Durban Tradition, Kaduna, without a payment voucher.
The payment was made in full before the contractor did any work.
This is contrary to the provisions of Section 35 (2) of the Public Procurement Act 2007 and Financial Regulations 601 (2009).
The laws stipulate respectively that “once a mobilisation fee has been paid to any supplier or contractor, no further payment shall be made without an interim performance certificate issued in accordance with the contract agreement” and ‘’ all payment entries shall be vouched for and under no circumstances shall payment be made for services for which a voucher has not been raised.’’
Also, there was no proof of approval from the Council’s Tenders Board since the sum was above the approval limit of the DG, the report said.
It further noted that the contract award letter was not signed by the DG.
It said more than N1 million and another N1.8million paid as 2.55 per cent and 5 per cent for preliminary and consultancy fees respectively could not be accounted for.
Again, in 2016 before Mr Runsewe’s arrival as DG, the Council paid a servicing company more than N36 million for the 29th edition of the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST), including staff’s Duty Tour Allowance.
The report said the minutes of the meeting of the Tenders’ Board was not signed by any members and that the payment schedule and duration of the payment were not stated.
It also stated that Withholding Tax (WHT) and Value Added Tax (VAT) were not paid on the contract, indicating, according to the audit report, that the contract might not exist.
Mr Anyine directed Mr Runsewe to recover the N44.3 million and N36 million in question, and forward evidence of their recoveries to his office for confirmation.
Payments without supporting documents
The report also noted that the agency could not account for N22.5 million it claimed to have spent on store items, programmes, workshops, repairs and so on.
The report said about N2.3 million which should be WHT and VAT was not deducted from the payments.
According to the report, the payments were made without the attachment of relevant supporting documents to the payment vouchers, such as receipts, invoices.
This is contrary to the provision of Financial Regulations 603 (2009) which provides that all vouchers must be supported by relevant documents.
Not only that, the store items procured were not certified by stock verifiers as there were no stock verification certificates attached to the payment vouchers, also in contravention of Financial Regulations 2802 (2009).
The Auditor-General directed Mr Runsewe to refund the N22.5 million to the treasury and forward evidence of the refund to Mr Anyine’s office for verification.
Multiple calls unanswered
Mr Runsewe did not return multiple requests for comments on the audit findings. Voice calls and text messages sent by Premium Times to his known telephone number went unanswered, just as he ignored our emails.