A exploration of forensic accounting education and practice for fraud prevention and detection in Nigeria
Whereas the problem of fraud is a global one, the rate and extent to which it is perpetrated in Nigeria, particularly in the public sector, is quite high and alarming. Literature reveals that different fraud prevention and detection mechanisms are being adopted to combat the menace of fraud; forensic accounting techniques appears to be the most effective and are currently used in most developed countries of the world. However, the extent to which forensic accounting techniques are being applied in fraud prevention and detection in Nigeria is not known. Also, the intention to use forensic accounting services in the public service has not been investigated. This study was therefore aimed at examining the application of forensic accounting techniques in fraud prevention and detection in Nigeria. Specific objectives were: (1) to investigate the mechanisms of fraud prevention and detection, and their levels of effectiveness in Nigeria, (2) to identify the major factors that hinder the application of forensic accounting techniques in fraud prevention and detection in Nigeria, (3) to examine practitioners’ opinions and behavioural intention to use forensic accounting techniques in fraud prevention and investigation in Nigeria, (4) to explore the level of awareness of forensic accounting techniques in Nigeria and (5) to examine the readiness of universities in taking up forensic accounting courses. The study involved the collection of quantitative data. These data were collected from three sets of populations, viz. accounting students, accounting academics and accounting practitioners. The questionnaire served as the survey instruments. The data collected were analysed using appropriate statistical techniques and computer software. The study identified several fraud prevention and detection mechanisms that are currently used in Nigeria, such as systems of internal controls, operational audits and corporate code of conduct. Students’ t-test indicates a significant difference between the perceived effectiveness and actual usage of fraud prevention and detection mechanisms in Nigeria. It was further discovered that the most effective mechanisms, like the forensic accounting techniques, are the least used in fraud prevention and detection. This implies that the current mechanisms of fraud prevention and detection are not proactive in dealing with the fraud menace. Also, legal, educational and political factors were identified to hinder the application of forensic accounting techniques in Nigeria. The level of awareness in forensic accounting in Nigeria is generally low. While the one-way analysis of variance indicates a significant variation among the three populations, it was discovered that students had the lowest level of awareness. Further findings of the study reveal that the universities are not yet ready to take up forensic accounting courses. Using the structural equation modelling (SEM), all the other seven propositions were supported. The findings of this study have both theoretical and practical implications. Theoretically, it further strengthened the findings of previous studies on the organisational intention. From the practical point of view, there is urgent need for manpower development in universities with specialisation in forensic accounting. Again, the educational institutions, and particularly the universities in Nigeria, would need to include forensic accounting courses in the undergraduate curriculum as education has been shown to be pivotal in creating awareness on the use of forensic accounting techniques. Furthermore, from the sampled space, the study has captured the current state of forensic accounting in Nigeria and the findings will be very useful for the public service, private organisations and policy makers.
- PhD