QUALITY STANDARDS ENFORCEMENT MECHANISMS AND THE FORENSIC ACCOUNTING PROFESSION IN NIGERIA
ImageThis research effort is a baseline study, designed to obtain empirical evidence on the current state of the forensic accounting profession in Nigeria; and the level of compliance of the profession with the International Quality Assurance Accreditation Standards (IQAAS). It is an evaluation of the extent of quality standards enforcement mechanisms (QSEM) in the profession in Nigeria. The study used both primary and secondary data. The primary data source consisted of a set of questionnaire designed for completion by the forensic accounting professionals in Nigeria. The secondary data were obtained from the official websites and records of the accounting profession regulators in the Country. Descriptive statistics were used to analyse the data obtained from 161 respondents; and hypotheses were tested with t-test and regression analysis (at α = 0.05). A Compliance Index was used to measure the level of compliance of the profession in Nigeria with the IQAAS. The outcome revealed a significant difference between the current state of the forensic accounting profession in Nigeria and the requirements of the IQAAS. The study found that the profession rests on weak QSEM to ensure compliance with the IQAAS; it revealed a lack of statutory regulatory institution, enabling legal framework; and uniform coordination, training, certification and accreditation standards. The study also found that there is an acute shortage of qualified professionals in the practice; many of the existing practitioners lack the requisite skills to effectively function in the field of specialisation. The result further showed that the contribution of the Nigerian universities to the development of the discipline is not significant, mainly owing to insufficient qualified academics and facilities. These shortcomings have contributed to low quality of service delivery in the profession, putting its probative value in doubt. It is thus concluded that the profession in Nigeria has not provided expected impact on the fight against the economic and financial crimes; that without QSEM in place in Nigeria, the forensic accounting profession would remain a futilearmour against the economic and financial crimes in the Country. The study, therefore, recommends that the Nigerian Federal Government and relevant bodies should, as a matter of priority, establish forensic regulatory institutions, such as National Institute of Forensics (NIF); Nigerian Academy of Forensics (NAF); Certified Institute of Forensic Accountants of Nigeria (CIFAN); and Nigerian Association of Professional Forensic Accountants (NAPFA). These bodies, in co-operation with the Judiciary and the National Universities Commission (NUC) will ensure that the forensic accounting profession in Nigeria is based on best practices, in compliance with the requirements of the IQAAS. The Nigerian universities, in collaboration with relevant professional bodies, should give continued attention to the development of the forensic accounting academic programmes at all levels.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Title Page i
Table of Contents v
Lists of Tables viii
List of Figures x
Chapter One: Introduction
Background to the Study1
Statement of the Problem5
Aim and Objectives of the Study10
Significance of the Study12
Scope and Limitations of the Study13
Operational Definition of Terms15
Chapter Two: Literature Review
2.1 Introduction 17
2.2 Evolution of the Forensic Accounting Profession 17
2.2.1 Historical Development of the Forensic Accounting Profession in Nigeria 21
2.3 Nature of a Profession 22
2.4 Forensics in Theoretical Context 29
2.5 Selection of Theories for the Study 34
2.5.1 Public Interest Theory 35
2.5.2 Theory of Profession 43
2.5.3 Theory of Professional Regulation 49
2.6 The Conceptual Model of the Study 55
2.6.1 The Proposed Relationships among the Variables in the Conceptual Model 56
2.7 Ethical Issues in Forensics 73
2.8 Professional Competencies in the Forensic Accounting Profession 80
2.8.1 Audit Failure and Expectation Gap 86
2.7 Economic and Financial Crimes in Nigeria 72
2.9 Economic and Financial Crimes in Nigeria 89
2.9.1 Business Fraud Risk 94
2.9.2 Celebrated Cases of Economic and Financial Crimes in Nigeria 98
2.9.3 An Overview of the Transparency International Annual Corruption
Perception Index (ACPI) and Nigeria Banking
2.10 Academic Research and Practice in the Accounting Profession 104
2.11 Quality Assurance in Academic Programmes of Tertiary Institutions 111
Quality Assurance in the Nigerian Universities117
Perspectives on the Accounting Academic Programme and Practice125
Chapter Three: Methodology
Research Population and Sample129
3.1 Research Population 130
3.3.2 Research Sample 131
Procedure for Data Collection131
Measurement of Variables132
Level of Institutional Regulation134
Extent of Legal Framework135
Degree of Judicial Acceptance135
Extent of compliance with the IQAAS136
Methods of Data Analysis140
ImageLimitations of the Research Method Adopted for this Study141
Section Four: Data Presentation and Analyses
Demographic Data of the Respondents142
Current State of Forensic Accounting Profession in Nigeria148
Problems that led to the Emergence of the Forensic Accounting in Nigeria149
Determinants of Success of Economic and Financial Crime Prosecutions150
Contribution of the Nigerian Universities to the Advancement of the
Forensic Accounting Profession 151
Obstacles to Integrating Forensic Accounting Academic Programme152
Contribution of the Nigerian Professional Accounting Bodies to the
Advancement of the Forensic Accounting Profession 152
Compliance of the Forensic Accounting Training and Certificate153
Skill Requirements in the Forensic Training and Certification Process153
Test of Hypothesis One154
Compliance of the Forensic Accounting Professional Practice and
Engagement in Nigeria with IQAAS 155
Quality Standards in the Forensic Accounting Practice and Engagement156
Test of Hypothesis Two157
Effect of the QSEM on the Compliance of the Forensic Profession with
the IQAAS 157
Test of Hypothesis Three158
Other Determinants of the Quality Improvements in the Forensic Accounting159
Validation of the Findings160
Chapter Five: Discussion and Summary of Findings
Summary of Findings161
Discussion of Findings162
Chapter Six: Conclusions and Recommendations
Contributions to Knowledge186
Suggestion for Further Study188
Appendix I 214
Appendix II 217
Appendix III 221
LIST OF TABLES Pages
Table 3.1: Interpretation of Quality Standards Compliance Index
for the Forensic Accounting Profession in Nigeria 136
Table 3.2: Validity and Reliability Coefficients of Research Variables 139
Table 4.1: Gender Distribution of the Respondents 142
Table 4.2: Age Distribution of the Respondents 143
Table 4.3: Job Category of the Respondents 143
Table 4.4: Present Employment of the Respondents 144
Table 4.5: Job Status of the Respondents 145
Table 4.6: Highest Academic Qualification of the Respondents 145
Table 4.7: Respondents Professional Qualification 146
Table 4.8: Respondents Post Qualification Work Experience 147
Table 4.9: The Current State of the Forensic Accounting Profession in Nigeria 148
Table 4.10: Problems that led to the Emergence of the Forensic
Accounting Profession in Nigeria 149
Table 4.11: Determinants of Success of the Economic and
Financial Crime Prosecutions 150
Table 4.12: Forensic Accounting Programme in the Nigeria Universities 151
Table 4.13: Obstacles in Integrating Forensic Accounting Academic
Programme into the Nigerian Universities 152
Table 4.14: Skill Requirements in the Professional Training and Certification 153
Table 4.15: One-Sample T-Test for Hypothesis One 155
Table 4.16: Forensic Accounting in Nigeria Compliance with the IQAAS 155
Table 4.17: Perception of the Professionals on the Quality
Standards in the Forensic Accounting Practice and Engagement 156
Table 4.18: One-Sample T-Test for Hypothesis Two 157
Table 4.19: Effects of Individual Component of the QSEM on the
Compliance of the Forensic Profession with the IQAAS 157
Table 4.20: Coefficients of Hypothesis Three 158
Table 4.21: Other Determinants of the quantity Improvement
in the Forensic Accounting 159
LIST OF FIGURE
Figure 2.1: Conceptual Framework of the Effects of Quality Standards
Mechanisms on the Compliance with the IQAAS 56
CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
Background to the Study
ImageThe accounting profession is in the age of transition (Davis, Farrell & Ogilby, 2014). Its environment has undergone changes in the last two decades, and an accelerating rate of change is in prospect. The changing social attitude with the adoption of new management philosophies and the growing intensity of competition, in a knowledge driven global economy, are impacting on the environment in which the profession presently operates. These have created the need to re- evaluate its objectives from a wide perspective. The profession is moving away from its traditional procedural base toward a role which emphasises its social welfare importance (Tanko, 2013). The social welfare viewpoint is reflected in the development of social accounting, where the interests of stakeholders are expected to exert a dominating influence on the development of improved accounting policies and practices. However, literature has suggested that the accounting profession, historically regarded as society‟s watchdog, is gradually losing the society‟s confidence consequent to widespread fraud cases resulting in corporate scandals and collapses which the traditional auditors have failed to uncover (Ajibolade, 2008). Thus, the social welfare theory of accounting requires that the traditional imbalance between the profession and the society must be corrected.
Globally, economic and financial crimes have been acknowledged as antithetical to economic development and growth. The recent experience of Nigeria on corruption cases appears to have validated this statement. From inception in 1996, the Transparency International Annual Corruption Perception Index (ACPI) has been consistently rating Nigeria as one of the most corrupt nations in the world. In the year 2000 ACPI, Nigeria was ranked as the most corrupt
country in the world out of the ninety countries the agency studied. In the 2014 ACPI, Nigeria scored 2.8 points on a scale of 10 points (Transparency International, 2000 & 2014; The Vanguard Newspaper, 2015). Furthermore, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) (2015) described Nigeria‟s ranking in the Transparency International‟s global Corruption Perception Index (CPI) as a reality check, confirming that the Country‟s fight against corruption has lost track. The group argued that “the Nigerian Government may see the global corruption index as a pain in the neck, but the index provides some indicators as to the reality in the country and it cannot simply be wished away (p.3).
ImageIn response to the corruption cases in Nigeria, the immediate past Minister of Finance and Co- ordinating Minister for the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (2015, p.7), argued that:
“Corruption persists in the Country because Nigeria lacks the institutions, systems and processes to prevent it. The absence of the relevant systems and institutions that should help check corruption has created opportunities for people to engage in the act”.
According to Omolehinwa (2012, p.59):
“…….. without proper accounting there can be no accountability and without accountability we cannot turn back the tide of corruption and without the tide of corruption being turned back, our country stands the risk of being a failed state”.
Earlier, the United Nations (UN) (2005, p.7) had broadly defined economic and financial crime as “any non-violent crime that results in a financial loss”. In this regard, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) (2013, p.1) posited that "the basic audit and the traditional investigation tools are no longer sufficient to unravel these types of crime”. In effect, a new set of skills are required to prevent, detect, investigate and establish the occurrence of the economic and financial crimes, and related offences; and document evidence capable of presentation in a legal setting (Efiong, 2012; Hall, 2013). As a result, there has been public
increasing concern about the relevance of the conventional accounting profession to the societal needs and problems (Albrecht & Sack, 2000; Otusanya & Lauwo, 2010; Owolabi, 2012; Fouché, 2013). The American Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) (2014, p.11) reported that “the accounting profession is presently being pulled and sharpened by contending forces”. The profession is faced not only with the need to increase the knowledge requirement of its members, but also a progressive increase in the public expectation about the scope, relevance and quality of its work (Adeyemi & Fagboro, 2013; (Davis et al., 2014; Chen, Hu, Lin & Xiao, 2015).
ImageConsequently, studies have challenged the conventional accounting profession; in particular financial accounting and traditional auditing, for providing a narrow image of the interaction between the profession and society; thereby artificially constraining the subject matter of the
profession (Fagboro, Gordon & Ehie, 2011; Okaro & Okafor, 2013; ACFE, 2014; The Forensic Careers, 2014). On the basis of this, The Forensic Careers (p.27) concluded that: “in a situation where the needs of the society are not met, there is need to open up a new area of research within the existing principles and practices of the affected profession”. To fill this expectation gap in knowledge, the forensic accounting profession emerged as a response to economic and financial crimes, and related vices, and failure of the traditional audit to tackle the menace (ICAN, 2013; Fagboro, Ajibolade & Akerele, 2014; The American International Institute of Certified Forensic Investigation Professionals (IICFIP), 2014). According to the IICFIP (2014), to determine the depth and scope of economic and financial crimes and related matters, forensic accounting investigations should be conducted in order to find when, where, what and how they are being perpetrated and by whom.
Image„Forensics‟, at its most basic level, is best explained as "science in service to the courts” (The Centre for Forensic Science & Medicine, 2013, p.1). By extension, the emerging forensic accounting has been defined as “the scientific investigation of economic and financial crimes and related matters, with a view to providing indisputable evidence at trials” (IICFIP, 2014, p.11). Forensics is a broad array of disciplines cutting across both natural and social sciences. Each discipline has its own methods and practices, as well as its strengths and weaknesses (Gauch & Blind, 2014). In particular, each forensic specialisation varies in its level of scientific development and in the degree to which it follows the principles of scientific procedures (Polick, 2008; Chakravarty, 2010). Notwithstanding, in every forensic specialisation, adherence to the basic scientific principles and global best practices, through quality standards enforcement mechanisms (QSEM) is important (The American Academy of Forensic Sciences, 2013).
To this end, theInternational Quality Assurance Accreditation Standards (IQAAS) (2014)identified three components of thequality standards enforcement mechanisms (QSEM)as: (i)Institutional regulation, (ii) Legal framework, and (iii) Judicial admissibility criteria and standards for the forensic profession. The Centre for Forensic Science and Medicine(2013, p.17) maintained that “for any forensic discipline to attain the world-class status, its structures must be established on the QSEM”. In line with this argument, The Forensic Careers (2014)specified four structures of forensics as: (i). Academic programme and research. (ii). Professional training and certification process. (iii). Professional practice and engagement.(iv). Mandatory continuing professional education and development (MCPED). This study, therefore, argues that for the emerging forensic accounting profession in Nigeria to fulfill its expected role, there is a need to pay attention to deliver its structures on the global best practices in line with the IQAAS, through functional QSEM.
Statement of the Problem Globally, the forensic profession has been facing challenges that stretch its resources to their limits. The profession has long been subjected to scathing criticisms. For instance, the report produced by the Committee of the American National Academy of Sciences (2009) on „Identifying the Needs of the Forensic Science Community‟, painted a bleak picture of the state of the profession and cast doubt on the quality and credibility of evidence provided by the experts in the field. The Committee, therefore, called for sweeping reforms after concluding that the judiciary is often swayed by false or misleading testimony from forensic experts using unproven scientific methods. The Committee opined that:
Image“A group of non-science forensic science disciplines has developed over the past century. These are fields within the broader forensic sciences that have little or no basis in actual science. They are not applications of established basic sciences, they have not systematically tested their own hypotheses, and they make unsupported assumptions and exaggerated claims” (The American National Academy of Sciences, 2009, p.31).
Edwards (2011), when testifying before the USA House and Senate Judiciary Committees, submitted that the forensics community had been plagued with serious problems that could not be cured without significant concerted action. He suggested that what was needed was a massive overhaul of the practice. Edwards noted that: “there is no empirical research to prove most forensic tenets, with the exception of Nuclear Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) evidence and some chemical analyses” (p.8).
Neufeld & Garrett (2009) found that forensic analysts often overstated evidence in wrongful conviction cases. The pair spent over a year reviewing one hundred and thirty seven (137) DNA exoneration cases in which forensic experts testified at trials. The authors found that in sixty percent (60%) of those cases, the forensic experts gave invalid testimony. Besides, Neufeld & Garrett also carried out a review of the role of forensics in the wrongful convictions. The review went beyond transcripts of testimony to analyse all forensic evidence used in the cases. They
found that in more than fifty percent (50%) of the first two-hundred and twenty-five (225) DNA exonerations, unvalidated or improper forensics played a role in the wrongful conviction. The authors, therefore, concluded as follows:
"It is clear that change and advancements, both systematic and scientific, are needed in a number of forensic disciplines to ensure the reliability of work, establish enforceable standards, and promote best practices with consistent applications” (p.31).
Polick (2008, p.17) had found that:
“The theory of forensic evidence is a field wrought with dispute. Many of these disputes stem from the limits of human knowing, a field known as epistemology”.
ImageBohan (2010, p.5) concluded that:
“The undeniable reality is that the community of forensic professionals has not done nearly as much as it reasonably could have done to establish either the validity of its approach or the accuracy of its practitioners‟ conclusion and the courts have been
„utterly ineffective‟ in addressing this problem”.
Chakravarty (2009) reported wide variability across forensic disciplines. Not only with regard to techniques and methodologies; but also with regard to reliability, error rates, reporting, research foundations, general acceptability, and published material. The author found that many of the forensic techniques used in courtroom proceedings, such as questioned documents, and examination of writings, rested on a foundation of very weak science. The author said that virtually no rigorous research to strengthen this foundation was being done. Instead, the public is witnessing a growing body of unreliable research with a strong interest in promoting the validity of these techniques. Chakravarty argued further that: “These same forensic professions differ significantly from what most scholars consider forensics to be” (p.11). He, therefore, suggested that: “there is a critical need for the forensic profession to build a base of rigorous research to establish its reliability” (p.11).
ImageThe American Academy of Forensic Sciences (2013) argued that some forensic disciplines were no longer generally accepted within the relevant investigative community. Gauch & Blind (2014), arguing from the social science perspectives, observed that “admitting „soft science‟ testimony as an opinion rather than scientific testimony, seems to rest on the backwards assumption that if expert testimony is less intellectually rigorous than science, it is entitled to be judged by a less rigorous admissibility standard” (p.143). However, Kassina, Drorb & Kukuckaa, (2013) maintained that it would be tantamount to rewarding non-science forensics for not developing scientific foundations for its claims. Leo & Gould (2010) stated that “the law requires two attributes from the forensic profession: i). Valid and reliable methodologies that enable the accurate analysis of evidence and reporting of results. ii). Practices that minimise the risk of results being dependent on subjective judgments or tainted by error or the threat of bias.
Akindede (2009, p.4) argued that “In Nigeria, since the economic and financial crimes are a violation of the law, they are offences punishable in a court of justice”. In other words, the forensic expert must prove that an act meeting the relevant legal definition of the crime has been committed by the suspect (Fagboro & Olofinsola, 2007). Furthermore, Kendall (2013) noted that “the concept of forensics is related to the notion of authentication”. That is, to determine whether an evidence is what it purports to be, or is alleged to (Gauch & Blind, 2014). To this end, Misinger & Sacks (2006) concluded that “poor quality activities at any stage of the process will lead to failure to recover or reliably analyse traces of valuable evidence”. This in turn will lead to failed investigations, prosecutions and even miscarriages of justice (Akpan, 2010). In this context, Ngex (2010, p.13) submitted that “the advancement of forensics both in general and within specific disciplines is growing increasingly more important, and must be subjected to greater public evaluation.
ImageConsequently, the quest to strengthen the emerging forensic accounting profession to effectively fulfill its expected role has led to a regime of global debate on the need for high quality standards in the field of specialisation. However, the debate has not attracted much research efforts. In Nigeria, the debate is critical as the question of the mechanisms to enforce standards in the profession is yet unanswered. The forensic accounting profession in Nigeria has been facing credibility challenges in recent time; for instance, studies have provided evidence that a significant gap exists between the current state of the profession and what the IQAAS require (Fagboro, 2005; Fagboro et al, 2011; Fagboro et al., 2014; Keshi, 2014;). This has negatively impacted on the quality of service delivery, and consequently put the probative value of the profession in doubt in Nigeria.
These developments have subjected the validity, reliability, credibility and admissibility of the forensic accounting evidence in the Nigerian courts to increased scrutiny by lawyers and judges (Ribadu, 2006; Fagboro & Olofinshola, 2007; Osipitan, 2009; Ngex, 2010). Thus, relating the judicial submission on the Akolade Arowolo vs. The Lagos State Commissioner of Police‟s (2014) case to the forensic accounting profession; this study argues that high quality standards in forensic accounting profession are integral to the criminal justice system (The Punch Newspaper, 2014). In other words, quality of forensic evidence is important, since the guilty may go unpunished or, equally, an innocent person may lose his/her liberty, if first-rate evidence is not submitted in the court of law (The Innocent Project, 2014). That is, if the courts of law do rely on the forensic evidence to deliver judgments; then, such evidence must not be controverted.
Given the depth and complexity of the transnational organised economic and financial crimes in the technological advancement age; the need for QSEM in the forensic accounting profession in Nigeria is of critical importance. This is so, because a search for and recovery of forensic
evidence has reached levels of analytical sophistication and capability such that all parts of the process (deconstruction and reconstruction of crimes and criminal activities) must be valid, reliable and credible.
ImageHowever, globally, empirical studies on the need to strengthen the emerging forensic accounting profession for effective service delivery and credibility are very rare. Most of the previous works on the forensic quality improvement were designed for the core science based forensics, with the advanced economies in mind (Oberholzer, 2002; Polick, 2008; Chakravarty, 2009; Neufeld & Garrett, 2009; Bohan, 2010; The Innocent Project, 2014). These studies were presumed to apply as well to the developing nations; whereas, the developing nations have their own problems and peculiarities which must be solved and handled in ways distinctively applicable to them (Adeyemi & Fagboro, 2013). Moreover, the studies at various times only investigated the effect of individual QSEM component on compliance of the forensic profession with the IQAAS. For instance, Strutin (2009) and Kendall (2013) examined the influence of institutional regulation; and Oberholzer (2002) and Kassina, Drorb & Kukuckaa (2013) evaluated the impact of enabling legal framework; Misinger & Sacks (2006) while as well as Leo & Gould (2010) investigated the effect of judicial admissibility criteria and standards for the forensic profession on compliance of the forensics with the IQAAS.
The outcomes of these studies revealed a low statistically significant effect of individual QSEM component on compliance of the forensics with the IQAAS. These results appear to have created a gap in knowledge on the need for empirical studies on the effect of combined QSEM components on the compliance of the forensic accounting profession with the IQAAS. In view of the above, an analysis of the current situation of the forensic accounting profession; the
professional capabilities and competenceof the practitioners; and the challenges facing the profession are desirable in Nigeria at the present time.
Aim and Objectives of the Study The aim of this study is to strengthen the emerging forensic accounting profession in Nigeria for effective service delivery and credibility. In the pursuit of this aim, the specific objectives of the study are to:
i. Examine the perceptions of the forensic accounting professionals in Nigeria on the current state of the profession.
ii. ImageEvaluate the contribution of the Nigerian universities to the advancement of the forensic accounting profession.
iii. Evaluate the contribution of the Nigerian professional accounting bodies to the advancement of the forensic accounting profession.
iv. Establish the level of compliance of the forensic accounting professional training and certification processes in Nigeria with the IQAAS.
v. Investigate the level of compliance of the forensic accounting professional practice and engagement processes in Nigeria with the IQAAS.
vi. Determine the effect of QSEM components on level of compliance of the forensic accounting profession in Nigeria with the IQAAS.
In an attempt to adequately address the problems identified in this study, the following six research questions are in focus:
i. What are the perceptions of the forensic accounting professionals in Nigeria on the current state of the profession?
ii. What is the level of the Nigerian universities‟ contribution to the advancement of
the forensic accounting profession?
iii. How significant is the contribution of the Nigerian professional accounting bodies to the advancement of the forensic accounting profession?
iv. To what extent do the forensic accounting professional training and certification processes in Nigeria comply with the IQAAS?
v. To what extent do the forensic accounting professional practice and engagement processes in Nigeria comply with the IQAAS?
vi. ImageTo what extent doQSEM components affect complianceof the forensic accounting profession in Nigeria with the IQAAS?
Hypotheses This study attempts to obtain empirical data that quantify the current state of the forensic accounting profession in Nigeria.The research questions i to iii are, therefore, subjected to descriptive statistical analysis. Consequently, three hypotheses are formulated specific to research questions iv to vi:
i. Forensic accounting professional training and certification processes in Nigeria do not significantly comply with the IQAAS.
ii. Forensic accounting professional practice and engagement processes in Nigeria do not significantly comply with the IQAAS.
iii. Quality standards enforcement mechanisms (QSEM) do not have any significant effect on the compliance of the forensic accounting profession in Nigeria with the IQAAS.
Significance of the Study Since forensic accounting profession is undergoing a developmental process worldwide; developing and applying Quality Standards Compliance Index (QSCI) for the profession in Nigeria is a significant contribution in the history of the field of specialisation in the Country. In addition, empirical studies on the application of quality standards enforcement mechanisms (QSEM) to the forensic accounting profession are extremely rare. Consequently, this research effort should provide a significant contribution to the advancement of knowledge in this regard.
ImageThis study resulted in the creation and application of a standardised index for measuring quality standards compliance in the forensic accounting academic programme and practice. Using a standardised index will provide potential benefits for the regulators and other stakeholders in Nigeria. The primary benefit of using a compliance index instead of a compliance rate is that an index allows regulators to capture a greater degree of subtlety in their compliance measurement efforts. Compliance indexes can measure compliance on a scale, not just as a binary measure. Another benefit of using an index approach is that it allows regulators to compile certain indicators to compare performance across time or across components. With creating a
„standardised‟ index, comprising common measures of compliance, regulators can remove the inconsistencies that may be measured in different years or across different building blocks. Similarly, if the profession has made changes to move towards compliance with certain standards, but has still not reached fullcompliance, a compliance rate would not capture that progress. Using an index approach will give regulators a way to track progress of each of the forensic accounting building blocks on a shorter time frame because it measures the extent of compliance in a more incremental way (The Compliance Indexing Project, 2014).
ImageThe outcome of the study will also benefit the Nigerian universities and other institutions of learning intending to integrate forensic accounting into their academic programmes. Studies have shown that the current accounting academic programme has not really kept pace with the dynamic, complex and expanding profession for which students are being trained (Fagboro et al, 2011; Efiong, 2012; Dutta, 2013). The Futures Committee Report (1986) of the American Accounting Association (AAA), and West Virginia University (2007) raised concerns about the standard of the accounting academic progrmme. The authors concluded that without significant changes to the accounting academic progrmme, future accountants would not receive the preparation they needed to meet the emerging needs of the society.
The result of this study will have public interest implications on the grounds that the government, anti-economic and financial crime agencies, legal and para-legal officers, business community and captains of industry, non-governmental organisations and the accounting profession are all concerned with business frauds, accounting scandals, corporate failures, and related workplace abuses. The outcome of the study will provide guidelines on policy initiatives that should be adopted in any plan to improve the forensic discipline, and allow the forensic community serves society more effectively. Quality standards in forensic accounting activities will help rebuild eroded investor confidence in management representation and corporate investment. Attracting investment requires protecting investors. Quality standards will also strengthen the ability of the accounting profession to serve its purpose in the society.
The Scope and Limitations of the Study
The focus of this study is to provide empirical evidence that will help ensure that the emerging forensic accounting profession in Nigeria is subject to an appropriate regime of high quality standards, to effectively deliver its services to the society. The study cover the activities of the
forensic accounting profession registered with the IICFIP or/and ICAN in Nigeria. It also focused on the accounting educational and training programmes of the NUC accredited universities in Nigeria as at 31st of December, 2014. However, the study did not by any means conduct an evaluation of the activities of the anti-economic and financial crime agencies in the Country. This study also did not include a survey assessment of the quality of research outputs in the forensic accounting profession in Nigeria.
ImageAlthough the study attempted to encompass quality improvement in forensic accounting profession; it however, experienced a relative dearth of local prior research studies on the subject area. This research effort experienced a relative dearth of local theoretical and empirical works in the area of study. This is perhaps not unconnected with the fact that the field of specialisation is still in its infancy in Nigeria.
i. As the data used for this study were partly obtained from a primary source, specifically the use of a set of questionnaire; they may therefore contain some potential sources of bias, including those listed below, which may impact on the outcome of the study.
ii. Selective memory: Remembering or not remembering experiences or events that occurred at some point in the past. Telescoping: Recalling events that occurred at one time as if they occurred at another time.
iii. Attribution: The act of attributing positive events and outcomes to one's own agency, but attributing negative events and outcomes to external forces.
iv. Exaggeration: The act of representing outcomes or embellishing events as more significant than is actually suggested from other data.
Furthermore, preset answers might not necessarily reflect how the respondents really feel about a subject; and in some cases, it might just be the closest match to a preconceived hypothesis. However, it is noted that this study witnessed a relatively fair support, patronage and enthusiasm among the respondents. It received the respondents‟ co-operation in terms of provision of data, opinions, and in timely completion of the research instrument, which assisted in the achievement of set objectives.
The Operational Definition of Terms
The following terms are operationally defined according to their specific usages in this study:
ImageForensic Accounting Professional: A forensic accounting professional in Nigeria, trained and certificated by the International Institute of Certified Forensic Investigation Professionals (IICFIP) or/and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).
ii. Quality Standards Enforcement Mechanisms (QSEM):The three determinants (level of institutional regulation, extent of enabling legal framework, and degree of judicial acceptance) of the extent of compliance of the forensics profession in Nigeria with the requirements of the International Quality Assurance Accreditation Standards (IQAAS).
iii. Level of Institutional Regulation: The existence of relevant forensic regulatory authorities in Nigeria, and the extent at which the authorities ensure quality improvement in the forensic accounting profession in the Country.
iv. Extent of Legal Framework: The existence of the acts of parliament that establish the forensic profession in Nigeria, and the extent at which the enabling acts ensure quality standards in the forensic accounting profession in the Country.
v. Degree of Judicial Acceptance: The judicial admissibility criteria and standards for the forensic profession in Nigeria, which the forensic accounting profession must comply with to determine its extent of acceptance by the court of law..