The House of Representatives on Thursday summoned the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr. Zainab Ahmed, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele and the Accountant General of the Federation, Mr. Ahmed Idris over the audit query on unauthorized withdrawal of $21 billion Nigeria Liquefied and Natural Gas (NLNG) dividends account between 1999 and 2020.
Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, Hon. Wole Oke issued the notice after the presentation made by the Group Managing Director of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NLNG), Mr. Mele Kyari who affirmed that the deduction from the NLNG Dividends Account was approved by relevant authorities, namely Federal Ministry of Finance, CBN and NNPC.
Mr. Kyari who was represented by the Chief Financial Officer of the corporation, Mr. Umar Ajiya observed that the proceeds from the Dividends Account were the Federal Government’s share of revenues from oil shared among the Federal and State tiers of the Federation.
“All withdrawals (from NLNG dividends fund), were based on approved mandates of the relevant authorities. As far as NNPC is concerned, investments in NLNG were done on behalf of the Federal Government.
“I was the treasurer of NLNG, so I was aware of the Federal Government’s investment in the project.
“The same matter came at the FEC, and was referred to a Committee headed by the Governor of Kaduna State, but the fact is that, the Federal Government, through the NNPC, is the true owner of the investment. It is accrued to the Federal Government, not the Federation Account.
“There is no question of illegal withdrawal. Nobody can withdraw from the account, illegally; the CBN Governor, can be invited to attest to that,” Mr. Kyari argued.
While noting that NNPC sits on the NLNG board on behalf of the Federal government, proceeds from the investment, are managed and disbursed or dispensed or utilized, based on the instruction of the the Federal Governnment.
“When I say Federal Government, I do not mean NNPC. Ordinarily, it’s the Federal Ministry of Finance, that directs the utilization. We are merely the agents of the Federal Government,” the NNPC helmsman stressed.
While responding to audit query on the alleged unauthorized deduction of over N1.2 trillion from proceeds from oil in the 2014 fiscal year, the NNPC Group Managing Director maintained that: “the NNPC couldn’t have remitted all its earnings” into the federation account, during the period under review.
In a related development, the Committee on Public Accounts resolve to clear the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and Nigerian Customs Service on the audit queries issued on the non-remittances for 2014 fiscal year.