The Senate Joint Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has raised a concern about the additional budgetary spending of over N503 million by INEC without applying for virement from the National Assembly.
The discovery was made during the 2019/2020 budget defence session by the commission before the senate committee.
Rep. Ibrahim Babangida from Katsina raised the issue when he queried the INEC Chairman Yakubu Mahmud. Mahmud was asked to explain why the commission unilaterally chose which of the budgetary item to effect extra-budgetary spending.
He said that the action of the commission was in contravention of the 1999 Constitution. Specificaly, it stipulates that funds should not be expended outside what has been appropriated by the Senate.
Rep. Fred Agbedi, representing Bayelsa, also took the INEC chairman to task. He urged him to tell the committee the extant laws the commission relied on to spend money beyond appropriation.
He said that in spite of the emergency necessitating the commission to spend fund beyond appropriation; such extra-budgetary spending should be done with a request for virement and approval by the National Assembly.
Some of the areas where such extra-budgetary expenditure was observed by the committee are security services; in which N150 million was appropriated. However, the sum of N194.8 million was spent by the commission.
In his defence, the INEC chairman said that the spending was based on emergency situations and in line with the independence of the commission to carry out its responsibilities.
Speaking on the personnel of the commission, the INEC chairman said that the commission had yet to enrol its staff on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
He explained that it was still waiting for circular to guide them on how it should be implemented in the commission.
Earlier in his remarks, the chairman of the committee, Sen. Kabiru Gaya, (APC Kano), asked the commission to always comply with a request from lawmakers to submit their budget details.
He said that the committee had requested the commission to immediately commence the deregistration of political parties that failed to meet up with the constitutional requirements of winning an election.