The Nigerian Senate has raised concerns over the disbursement of N10.4 billion by the Ministry of Justice to the beneficiaries without providing details of the distribution. The Senate Public Accounts Committee (SPAC) chaired by Senator Mathew Uhroghide had earlier reported on this issue in 2017 and 2018, indicting the Ministry for not constituting a committee responsible for the disbursement and for lacking control, which could result in the loss of public funds.
In light of this, the Senate has ordered the ministry to halt further disbursement of the judgement debt, and the committee responsible for the disbursement should be reconstituted. Evidence of the disbursement should be forwarded to the Auditor General and Senate Panel within 30 days.
Moreover, the Senate has also directed some Nigerian universities to refund N4.7 billion that was mismanaged by the school management. The seven universities indicted by the auditor-general reports for 2016 and 2017 include the University of Ilorin, University of Abuja, University of Uyo, Federal University, Birim Kebbi, Federal University, Lafia, Federal University, Wukari, Modibo Adams University of Technology, Yola, and Federal University of Petroleum, Effurun. The Senate Public Accounts Committee upheld the auditor-general’s reports and has sustained the indictment, which will be forwarded to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation for further action.
The breakdown of the mismanaged funds showed that the University of Abuja (UNIABUJA) mismanaged a total of N1.3 billion in 2017, while the Federal University of Petroleum mismanaged N1.1 billion, the University of Ilorin mismanaged N745 million, Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA) mismanaged N467 million, Federal University, Wukari, mismanaged N43 million, Federal University Dutsinma, Katsina mismanaged N141 million, and Federal University, Lafia, mismanaged N32 million.
It is crucial to note that lack of control in the disbursement of funds could lead to the loss of public funds. The auditor-general’s report recommended that the solicitor-general of the federation and permanent secretary in the Ministry of Justice should constitute the committee as required by law.
The Senate’s actions are commendable in ensuring that public funds are appropriately distributed and mismanagement of funds by universities is curbed. It is necessary for government agencies to follow due process in the disbursement of funds to avoid losses and promote transparency.