Reps move for removal of impediments to MDAs’ probe

Kingsley-ChindaThe House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts is making moves to remove the constitutional constraints to conducting the investigation of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs)

Chairman of the committee, Kingsley Chinda, during an interview with The Guardian in Abuja, expressed worry that Section 85 (5) of the country’s constitution, which empowers the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF) to periodically lay reports of financial misconduct by the MDAs to the legislature for consideration, did not spell out the time frame for their examination and what next to do after that.

At the lower legislative chamber alone, he said the Committee on Public Accounts is battling with the resolution of several financial complaints from the existing 614 agencies of Federal Government. Many of them are arising from the agencies’ budgets and financial activities of 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, according to Chinda.

The lawmaker said if there were to be a period for dealing with them, many of them would have been sorted out by the previous legislative assemblies.

He maintained that if the relevant constitutional provision were not urgently expanded to accommodate the time frame, successive parliamentary sessions would also inherit inconclusive investigations of the financial dealings from the AGF.

The panel is yet to submit any of its reports to the House since the legislature was inaugurated last year.Chinda said despite the failure of the constitution to specify the time for doing so, the committee was striving at compiling its report to the House as it has so far in about one and a half years, carried out investigations into about 100 MDAs beginning from 2010.

Chinda said as a palliative measure, the committee had put together a sub-committee to propose an amendment of the constitutional provision, which when found to be justifiable, would be forwarded to a constitutional review panel of the National Assembly for adoption. It has one month to submit its report, according to him.

According to the lawmaker, it is only through this that the legislature would be seen as promoting financial propriety and the anti-corruption fight of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Comparing the country’s situation with Uganda whose parliamentarians from Local Government Committee on Public Accounts participated in one of the House Committee hearings last week, Chinda said the Ugandan lawmakers are empowered by the constitution to conclude financial investigations within a time frame, making it obligatory for the executive to adopt and act on the findings.

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