This study was conducted to ascertain the role of accountants and auditors in checking distress in Nigeria banks. To achieve this objective, the following Nigerian banks were used as study areas before their acquisition by more viable banks- Intercontinental bank, Oceanic bank, Afribank and Bank PHB. Primary data were collected by using validated questionnaires and secondary data collection was by oral interviews and examination of some bank documents. Two hundred and fifty questionnaires were distributed among staff of the aforementioned banks in Enugu State and thereafter, two hundred and thirty-five of the returned questionnaires were valid and were subsequently subjected to descriptive statistical analysis to ascertain the roles and involvement of auditors in distress in Nigerian banks in line with the elements of the questionnaires. Analytical statistical tools such as means, standard deviations and percentages were used for the analysis. Chi-square and Student t-test were used as the major statistical tools for testing the hypotheses and comparing mean values. Result of the study indicated that there were collusion between accountants/auditors and management and there is aiding and abetting of management by external auditors to commit fraud. It was also found that there is gross negligence and improper performance on the jobs by accountant/auditors and in some instances, accountants/auditors are gagged by management and directors. Experience of accountants/auditors was also found to play a significant role in the quality of report submitted.
The major conclusion of this study is that auditor’s reports presented for distressed and failed banks fulfilled only the letter of the law. It is thus recommended that the law should be amended to make auditors criminally liable for negligent performance of duty in addition to the current civil liability.
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