N456m staff salaries: Senate probes Federal High Court

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The Senate has demanded the Federal High Court Personnel Cashbook following a query raised by the Auditor General for the Federation, regarding discrepancies in its staff salaries.

The Chairman, Senate Public Accounts Committee, Senator Mathew Urhoghide, gave the directive following the inability of the FHC management to explain a difference of N456m in its staff salaries.

The AuGF had in his query, faulted the personnel cashbook balance from January to December 2015.

The query read, “Personnel Account Cashbook from January to December, 2015 was N2.4bn while the transcript closing balance was N2.9bn giving an unexplained N456m in the Personnel Account Cashbook.

“The Chief Registrar has been requested to reconcile the difference and forward the reconciliation for audit verification.”

The Federal High Court sent a written response to the Committee, explaining that the cash book contains separate salaries of judges and those of the staff.

The written response read, “In the personnel cashbook, judges’ and staff salaries are usually prepared separately; these figures are summed up under corresponding line-items in the transcript.

“The total sum of closing balance as extracted from personnel cashbook of 2015 is N3bn. The sum picked from February to July was the closing balances only, while omitting the judges’ closing balances. These omissions amount to the differences observed by the auditors.”

The panel chairman, who was not satisfied with the written submission, asked the FHC to submit its personnel cashbook for the committee’s perusal.

Efforts by the officials of FHC, led by the Chief Accountant of the Federal High Court, Kazeem Awoyemi, to defend the unexplained N456m were rejected by the lawmakers.

The Committee also tackled the Federal High Court for paying N18m meant for 38 officers into a single account.

It was stated in the AuGF query that that there were no evidence that the 37 other officers were actually paid by the Federal High Court.

Officials of the FHC admitted that it could be an error because all the affected officers were paid. Punch

 

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