At least 32 agencies of the Nigerian Government made 213 transactions worth N9.61bn without indicating the purpose of payments in April and May, according to analysis of the data obtained by Civic Media Lab from the Open Treasury portal maintained by the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.
More than a half of the transactions were conducted in April and about a half of all the payments went to companies.
Thirty-six of the disbursements were intra-ministerial/departmental payments as well as disbursements to revenue collection agencies, two were paid into private accounts, while the rest went into the coffers of different companies.
The two unexplained transfers made to private individuals were paid out by the federal Polytechnic Idah in Kogi State.
There were 156 beneficiaries in total.
In 75 transactions, the police formations and commands paid out N2.09bn to 43 entities without describing the reasons for the payments.
Similarly, the Nigeria Correctional Service failed to indicate the purpose of N2bn transactions to 36 entities.
The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps made the third highest number of payments, giving out N714.53m in 16 transactions to 15 firms.
The single highest transaction was the N1.93bn from the Military Pension Board to the Directorate of Military Pensions.
Also, the Ministry of Defence Headquarters made the second largest transaction with N435.87m to the Guards Brigade.
The Presidential Air Fleets’ payment of N330m to its naira transit account was the third highest transaction in April.
The Nigeria Correctional Service made the largest single payment to a private entity, transferring N207.44m to Waterstone Projects Limited.
No tangible reasons have been given for these obscure transactions.
Spokesperson for the Nigeria Police Force, Frank Mba, suggested that lack of description of the purposes of the transactions could have come from the Open Treasury portal and not from the agencies.
“It's not true,” Mba wrote in a text message. “No payment can pass through GIFMIS – Government Integrated Financial Management Information System without adequate numeration.
“The system is so transparently designed that it is almost impossible to circumvent it. Most importantly, the office of the AGF provides a very strong and robust oversight on the financial transactions of all government agencies, including that of the NPF,” he added.
Austin Njoku, spokesperson for the Nigeria Correctional Service, said his office did not mandate him to know everything.
“I am not an accountant,” Njoku said. “Go to them and ask them how they do the verification.
“If I am the spokesperson, must I know everything that happens in the service?” he added.
Reacting to the findings, Joshua Olufemi, a data journalist and founder of Dataphyte, said even if the payments were legitimate, the citizens had been denied the privilege of knowing what a sizable chunk of their funds were used for.
“I need to know what my money is used for as a citizen, to know i.f it is being used right. If not that some of the information they released in January and February had purpose of payment, we wouldn’t have known that some directors in the department of petroleum resources (DPR) and Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) are earning more than the president,” he said.
Data on Open Treasury portal should normally align with GIFMIS but Olufemi said he was skeptical about how much details the OAGF and the government parastatals are giving.
“The MDA’s are probably not submitting the purpose of payment because the OAGF is not demanding it, or both parties know what the payments are meant for so they feel they can do away with reporting,” he added