Propensity of Unqualified Audit Reports and Auditors’ Independence in Nigeria
The need for auditors‟ independence is very crucial for the success of audit process. Independence of the auditors manifests in technical, investigative and reporting forms. For the audit report to be publicly accepted as reflecting the true and fair view the auditors must be seen to be indeed truly independent. One way the auditor‟s independence manifests is in the nature of audit report issued by the auditors. This study therefore examines the nexus between the auditor‟s independence and the nature of audit report issued. Using audit fees as a measure of audit independence we examined the relationship between the audit fees and the nature of audit reports of Twenty-Seven (27) publicly quoted companies in Nigerian Stock Exchange between 2002 and 2006 period. The results of the analysis show that there is a positive but insignificant relationship between the auditor independence (measured by audit fees) and the nature of the audit reports issued by the auditors. Most of the companies under investigations issued unqualified audit reports. Since audit fee is used to estimate independence it therefore means that the higher the audit fee the lower the auditor independence and the higher the incidence of issuing unqualified audit reports.
Keywords: Auditor independence, audit fees, audit report, qualified audit report, and unqualified audit report.