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This study examined Internal Audit and Fraud Control in Public Institutions in Nigeria (A Case Study of University of Uyo Teaching Hospital). The main objective of the study was to ascertain the relationship between internal audit and fraud control in University of Uyo Teaching Hospital. Survey research design was adopted for this study. Data for this study were obtained through questionnaire administered to 276 respondents that were randomly selected from the Department of Accounting, Procurement and Administration of UUTH. Simple percentage analysis was used in presenting the generated data on the profile of the respondents. Three null hypotheses were formulated and tested using Pearson Product Moment Correlation (PPMC) analysis. All the three formulated null hypotheses were rejected and the alternate accepted. Results from the study showed that segregation of duties, authorization and approval and security of assets have significant relationships with fraud control in UUTH. Hence, the study concluded that internal audit control significantly influenced fraud control in UUTH. Based on these findings, the study recommended periodic stock taking and more than one employee should be involved in carrying out an assigned task through transfers or change of persons in various sections. Staff should be transferred from one section to another within a specified period of time. All transaction should be adequate supported by source documents. All payment should be authorized and approved by the management staff.
1.1 Background to the Study
Organizations are established to achieve certain pre-determined objectives. They strive through planning, organizing and controlling to ensure that those objectives are effectively and efficiently achieved. A typical organization is made up of people saddled with different responsibilities and at different functional units. These individuals, when not properly monitored, can engage in some unethical work behaviours. This scenario is not only peculiar to public institutions but is also applicable to private establishment with large organizational structures. The extent to which these organizations are able to circumscribe the employee’s activities with the aim of achieving effectiveness largely depends on the effectiveness of their internal control system. In public institutions, one of the means of achieving this objective is through internal audit control.
Overtime, internal audit control has gradually become the strength of every organization especially public institutions. The need for fraud control systems in the public sector is paramount due to the fact that the public sector, which has a crucial role to play in the economic development of a nation, is now being characterized by macro-economic instability, slow growth in real economic activities, and corruption (Olaoye, 2009). More so, with the current financial crisis in the country which has resulted to a limited budget to all government parastatals, internal auditing and fraud control become especially important in managements. Thus, an internal control system is designed by the management in order to carry on the business of the enterprise in an orderly and efficient manner, ensure adherence to management policies, safeguard the assets and secure as far as possible the completeness and accuracy of the records.
Glance (2006) submits that internal audit control refers to institutional process and procedure that has been established with the aim of objective achievement. According to Soltani (2007), internal audit control refers to an appraisal activity established within a company with the aim of examining, evaluating and monitoring the adequacy and effectiveness of the accounting and internal control systems. The Institute of Internal Auditing (IIA, 1999) defined internal auditing as an independent, objective assurance and consulting activity designed to add value and improve an organization’s operations. This viewpoint corroborates with the supposition of Benjamin (2001). Thus, the internal control system serves as a process that guides an organization towards achieving its established objectives. According to Church and Schneider (2008), effective internal control systems are fundamental drivers towards quality.
Fraud, on the other hand, can be defined as the deliberate misrepresentation of fact for the purpose of depriving someone of a valuable possession (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2009). According to the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) study Pack (2006), fraud consists of both the use of deception to obtain an unjust or illegal financial advantage and intentional misrepresentations, affecting the financial statements by the one or more individuals among management, employees, or third parties. Abiola and Oyewole (2016) conceived it as the misappropriation, theft or embezzlement of corporate assets in a particular economic environment. The point is, perpetrators of fraud could be any person in an organization (Russell &Norvig, 2003). It could be done by the most trusted employee. Whenever it happened, it leads to shock and financial loss in an organization.
In preventing fraud in an organization through internal audit control, there are basically three internal audit methods: segregation of duties, authorization and approval, and security of assets (Iyinomen & Nkechi, 2016; Amaechi & Chinedu, 2017). Segregation of duties implies that duties are segregated among different employees in an organization to reduce the risk of error or inappropriate action. Separation of duties is the concept of having more than one person required to complete a task which involves breaking down tasks that might reasonably be completed by a single individual into multiple tasks so that no one person is solely in control (Both & Eloff, 2015). Nevertheless, the meaning of segregation in internal audit control is not only confined to division of responsibilities concerned with transactions and handling of assets. It equally entails that responsibilities pertaining to custody of assets, recording of transactions made and the approval of the transactions are divided among individuals.
Similarly, authorization and approval entails that management authorizes employees to perform certain activities and to execute certain transactions within limited parameters. In addition, management specifies those activities or transactions that need supervisory approval before they are performed or executed by employees. Such approval (manual or electronic) implies that he or she has verified and validated that the activity or transaction conforms to established policies and procedures. In the same vein, security of assets means that access to equipment, inventories, securities, cash and other assets is restricted; assets are periodically counted and compared to amounts shown on control records (Abiola & Oyewole, 2013).
Fraud has been cited as the biggest problem in public institutions in Nigeria (Gbegi & Adebisi, 2015). According to Kamaludeen (1991), billions of naira is lost in the public hospitals every year through fraudulent means. The incidence of fraud in public hospitals in Nigeria has not only snapped government trust in these hospitals as it has cost government billions of naira but has equally cost members of the public access to quality health care due to misappropriation of funds and materials earmarked for such purpose. In most cases, incidence of fraud has led to unrealized objectives of these hospitals and inability to stock the materials needed for treatment due to looted funds. Thus, since internal audit could aid in facilitating effective fraud control in an organization, the researcher intends to examine internal audit and fraud control in public institutions in Nigeria taking University of Uyo Teaching Hospital (UUTH) as a case study.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
In every internal audit and fraud control measures, segregation of duties, authorization and approval, and security of assets have been helpful to management in controlling fraud in public institutions. When this internal audit control variables are lacking, it is usually difficult to achieve effective fraud control measures in public institutions. This is because, these internal audit control measures enables an organization to be accountable for every transaction made, it aid in keeping corporate activities in check, and ensures that all employees ethically work collaboratively towards achieving the goals of the organization.
Ideally, the practice of internal audit control in public institutions in Nigeria has not been effective. It has been observed by the researcher that most of these public institutions in Nigeria still lack the ability to implement a functional internal audit control system. Elsewhere, studies in Nigeria show that some internal audit control systems in public institutions are too weak to combat fraud within the institution due to poor administration and application of appropriate internal audit techniques to prevent fraud. Some attribute it to the inadequacy and laxity of the internal control measures which makes it easy for the perpetrators of fraud.
This led to the questions: why is it that the internal audit control which could aid public organizations in combating fraud is not properly implemented? Could it be attributable to non-compliance to segregation of duties, authorization and approval, and security of assets? Enquiry into this scenario has motivated the researcher to investigate the possible causes of inadequate compliance to internal audit control in managing fraud in public institutions in Nigeria. Also, further research into available literatures have revealed that no study has been carried out in public institutions in Nigeria especially in public hospitals where the three variables; segregation of duties, authorization and approval, and security of assets were used as separate variables to examine their effects on fraud control. Thus, this study seeks to examine the extent to which these variables influence fraud control in public institutions in Nigeria.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of this study is to examine internal audit and fraud control in public institutions in Nigeria to see if it has achieve its aims of fraud control among other:
i. To examine the relationship between segregation of duties and fraud control in University of Uyo Teaching Hospital (UUTH);
ii. To evaluate the effects of authorization and approval on fraud control in University of Uyo Teaching Hospital (UUTH); and,
iii. To assess the relationship between security of assets and fraud control in University of Uyo Teaching Hospital (UUTH).
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions were designed for this study:
i. What is the relationship between segregation of duties and fraud control in University of Uyo Teaching Hospital (UUTH)?
ii. How does authorization and approval affect fraud control in University of Uyo Teaching Hospital (UUTH)?
iii. What is the relationship between security of assets and fraud control in University of Uyo Teaching Hospital (UUTH)?
1.5 Hypotheses of the Study
The following null hypotheses (H0) were formulated for this study:
H01: There is no significant relationship between segregation of duties and fraud control in University of Uyo Teaching Hospital (UUTH).
H02: Authorization and approval has no effect on fraud control inUniversity of Uyo Teaching Hospital (UUTH).
H03: There is no significant relationship between security of assets and fraud control in University of Uyo Teaching Hospital (UUTH).
1.6 Significance of the Study
The findings of this study would bring to the knowledge of UUTH reasons for non-compliance with internal audit control measures in the organization. With such awareness, government would ensure that the necessary agencies are mandated to carry out their assigned responsibilities devoid of favouritism.
More so, the findings of this study would contribute to the existing knowledge in internal audit and fraud control. By so doing, this study would serve as reference material for future research organization.
1.7 Scope of the Study
This study centered on internal audit and fraud control in University of Uyo Teaching Hospital (UUTH). More so, University of Uyo Teaching Hospital (UUTH) was chosen for this study as it is one of the long standing public institutions in the state with record of serving the public more effectively. In the same vein, this study focused on three variables of internal audit which are segregation, authorization and approval, as well as security of assets.
1.8 Limitations of the Study
This study was limited to the truthfulness of the responses provided by the respondents. Also, since the outcome of this study cannot be generalized in other organizations, this equally proved a limitation to the study. More so, there were inadequate current textbooks on the subject under consideration in the student’s library. Hence, the researcher dominantly made use related materials that could be sourced in the internet.
1.9 Operational Definition of Terms
Authorization and Approval: This refers to a situation where managers in an organization verify transactions done by an employee to confirm whether it conforms to established procedures and policies.
Fraud: This refers to misrepresentation of information in an organization for group or personal interest.
Internal Audit: This refers to a control system that is established in an organization with the aim of guiding organizational transactions effectively.
Security of Assets: This is a situation where organization restricts employee’s entrance, usage and custody of certain organizational assets.
Segregation: This is a situation where work to be done in an organization is divided among employees.
1.10 Organization of the Study
This study was basically designed into five (5) major chapters. The first chapter, which is the chapter one, deals with introduction/ background of the study, statement of problem, the objectives of the problem, research questions, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope of the study, limitations of the study, operational definition of terms and organization of the study. Chapter two was the review of related literature. Herein, related literatures to the topic under consideration were carefully reviewed. Chapter three was designed to deal with the research methodology. As such, issues considered within this spectrum include: Research design, Population of the study, sample size, sampling technique, research instrument, validity of the research instrument, reliability of the research instrument, administration of research instrument, scoring of research instrument, statistical instrument used for data analysis and decision rule. In chapter four, the primary data collected were presented and analyzed. More so, chapter five contained the summary of findings, conclusions and suggested recommendations.
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