A FORENSIC audit commissioned by the Kwara State government has disclosed that about N11.9 billion was stolen from the state’s treasury between 2011 to 2016, during the administration of former governor Abdulfatah Ahmed.
This was disclosed in a statement issued in Ilorin on Thursday by Rafiu Ajakaye, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Kwara State, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq.
“At least N11.9 billion of public funds were carted away from the treasury of Kwara State between 2011 and 2019 without any lawful tie to any project or programme, a forensic audit report has revealed, amid other mind-boggling revelations of alleged malfeasance within the period.
“The audit also showed that N2 billion cash withdrawals not tied to any project or official expenditure were made within eight days in February 2019, barely one month to the general election,” the statement said.
Presenting the report to the state governor AbdulRahman Abdulrazaq on Thursday, Partner at the SSAC and Professionals, Anthony Iniomoh, said it is in two volumes covering Internally Generated Revenue; Capital Receipts; Internal and External Loans; Recurrent/Overhead Expenditure; Personnel Cost (Salaries and Wages); Capital Expenditure; Assets Disposed; Kwara State Internal Revenue Service; Infrastructural Fund Kwara (IFK); and Harmony Holdings Limited, among others.
The report recommended the prosecution of some indicted individuals and firms, while other issues are to be referred to an administrative panel of inquiry for some individuals to explain their roles in some infractions.
“A few highlights of our findings may be necessary for the record. Our forensic audit revealed a colossal pilfering of N11, 981,268,709 which we recommended should be recovered to the public coffers. Similarly, we recommended to the state government to prosecute certain officers and companies in addition to claiming exemplary damages on transactions totalling N6,023,358,444, amongst other key findings,” Iniomoh said while presenting the report.
“This is especially so in the cases of firms that we observed were paid huge public funds without any evidence of work done on record. In one instance, records show that a firm that was incorporated at the Corporate Affairs Commission on 14th June, 2016 was paid by the state government for a contract it purportedly executed for the state in April of the same year. It became apparent that this was a preconceived attempt to defraud the state.
“There was an instance of a public officer getting paid at two different places for years, which is a clear breach of the law. Other infractions arising as a result of obvious conflict of interest and violation of due process were also spotlighted for the government to draw up new policy instruments to prevent such in the future.
“There was also a cash withdrawal within 8 days of N2.06 billion in February 2019 which was of interest to the audit. However, no documentation was made available to validate the purpose for which the money was withdrawn. There were also several other cash withdrawals within the state over the period running into billions of naira which we could not validate.
“These and others have been recommended to be referred to an Administrative Panel of Enquiry. Furthermore, the audit revealed that loans were obtained by the Kwara State Government within the period under review.
“The elements of these loans could not be validated. Above all, the bank accounts to which these loans were disbursed to and what the loans were used for could not be established or validated.”
The state governor, AbdulRazaq, said the revelations were truly disturbing but hardly surprising, given the patterns of events in those years.
“We thank you for the robust work. It confirms what we have been saying all along,” he added.
“We also saw that it has taken a bit of time and I know that there were certain deliberate efforts to obstruct your work. That was why it has taken some time because you have made certain complaints about that and we tried to push those that were supposed to open the doors to make the doors easy for you.
“Your report, like others, will help us to steadily put the state in the right direction to deepen transparency and accountability. We will go through the report fully and look into your recommendations.
“With few things you said now, it is mind-boggling especially withdrawing cash of over N2 billion a month to the election and all sorts of infractions that took place. Certainly, we shall progress from here and do the needful.”
When contacted by our reporter, the former governor, Ahmed, described the report as falsehood.
He added that it was an attempt by the state government to create a distraction.
“The report is not true. It’s a major distraction because they are under heat now. Don’t forget that we have auditor general who has audited and he made his findings and no such money was missing. You now went and brought auditor outside the purview of the state government,” Ahmed said.
“The state is supposed to be audited by the auditor general. How come their audit report is different from the report of the auditor general?
“You cannot go and bring auditor from outside and they will come and make some porous investigations that this is what is missing.
“It is a major distraction and it’s a clear picture to show that they have little to show for what they have been doing in the past three years.”