Can forensic auditing bridle Nigeria’s galloping corruption?
It must seem like a hopeless situation now; a lost cause even. We speak about the current administration’s spirited attempt at combating graft. As one of the cardinal programmes of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, so much efforts and resources have been deployed to stem the canker of corruption.
For instance, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has been perhaps, the more busy of agencies in the land along with the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC). Hundreds of cases are pending in various courts while so many more are being investigated.
Ironically, very few, and some say, inconsequential cases have been taken to a logical conclusion by way of convictions and imprisonment. And the reason as you may have guessed, is due again, to corruption which has permeated the entire system of government and indeed, the whole fabric of the society.
A major criticism trailing the current attempt at curbing corruption in Nigeria is the fact that it is not systematic. Systems are not being put in place to prevent the very act of graft; investigative and prosecutorial capabilities are not being fine-tuned and upgraded. The various checking and preventive units of government like the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation and the serious fraud units of the police are not being retooled and improved upon.
It is based on the foregoing that we think the call by the Association of Forensic and Investigative Auditors (AFIA) is quite timely. During a training and induction ceremony of members, AFIA president, Mrs. Victoria Enape, had raised the alarm over the increasing rate of corruption in Nigeria’s public sector.
According to her, public sector organisations in Nigeria lose as much as 60 per cent of their revenues to corrupt practices annually. More specifically, it is said that the country may have lost as much as N2 trillion in 2016 from an annual budget of a little over N4 trillion.
Mrs. Enape therefore advocates for a transition from the traditional auditing and reporting processes to forensic and investigative auditing. She said they are more given to preventing, detecting and putting in place, safeguards that do not allow wrong behaviours to take place ab-initio. Forensic auditing deploys modern technology which is the future of auditing, she added.
A Bill on the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Auditors in Nigeria is currently at the Senate. The Association seeks a speedy passage of it.
We are at one with the AFIA in seeking solution to the endemic corruption in the land and whatever legitimate measures that are necessary for achieving a drastic reduction of graft, especially in public service, is to be upheld.
According to Wikipedia, “Forensic accountants utilise an understanding of economic theories, business information, financial reporting systems, accounting and auditing standards and procedures, data management, electronic discovery, data analysis techniques for fraud detection, evidence gathering and investigative techniques and litigation process and procedures to perform their work.
“Forensic accountants are also increasingly playing more proactive risk reduction roles by designing and performing extended procedures as part of the statutory audit…”
We therefore urge the Senate to look into the merit of the AFIA Bill and speedily attend to it, bearing in mind the need to expand the scope of the fight against corruption. Already, there is an Institute of Forensic Auditors in Nigeria and the practice is advanced in most parts of the world in the past 20 years.
It is already a well-established body of advanced auditing practice in Europe, America, Asia as well as some parts of Africa. It is no doubt, a more advanced tool of fighting financial crimes; we urge government to show more than a passing interest in the development and growth of forensic auditing in Nigeria.