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Friday, 17 January 2014

‘Missing’ $49.8bn: NGF accuses Presidency of cover up

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, has rejected the explanations offered by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, over the alleged missing $49.8 billion as contained in the letter by Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.
The leakage of the letter has, however, created a gulf between President Jonathan and Sanusi with the President allegedly asking Sanusi to resign on account of the leakage of the letter, a request Sanusi turned down.
The NNPC has; however, gone ahead to explain how the controversial sum was expended. Not satisfied with the explanations offered by the Federal Government agency, the NGF at its Wednesday meeting said the explanation is puerile.
The Federal Government was accused of diverting the money as it was said that there was no record that the money was ever paid into the federation account as against the dictates of the law.
The NGF in a communiqué issued at the end of its meeting at held at the River State Governor’s Lodge on Wednesday night, said that the best option to get to the root of the matter is for the National Assembly to institute an investigation into the missing fund.
According to the group, it is unheard of that such a huge amount which the group said, translate to two years national budget could get missing and puerile explanations will be offered just to cover it up.
The forum also condemned the President for refusing to call the meeting of National Economic Council, NEC, for over four months, leaving a vacuum in some important area of governance.
The communiqué reads in part: “On the issue of the missing $49.8 billion (N8.5 trillion) or the equivalent of a two-year National Budget, there is no evidence that this amount was paid into the Federation Account or duly appropriated.
“We accordingly call on the National Assembly to institute a comprehensive independent forensic audit by an international reputable firm.
We fear that the recent decline of state revenues is not unconnected with the financial diversion.
“In clear breach of the provision of Section 11, Part II of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 which requires the Federal Government to hold consultations with states before the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, is laid before the National Assembly; consultation with states on the MTEF and Fiscal Strategy Paper (2014- 2016) did not hold.
“The National Economic Council, NEC, meeting where issues of this nature would have been discussed last held four months ago.
“We note with total dismay the recent violent attacks and killings that have taken place in Borno State as well as the attack on the father of the Kano State Governor.
“We also condemn the flagrant violation of the rights of citizens to freely assemble in Rivers State by the Nigerian Police; the excessive use of force against unarmed citizens in the exercise of their fundamental rights and the shooting of Senator Magnus Abe.
“The financial irregularities relating to public accounting, the lack of compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007, and the recent security breaches are not unconnected with the refusal of the Federal Government to convene meetings of statutory institutions created in the constitution such as the National Economic Council, NEC, the Council of State, the Nigeria Police Council and meetings of the Federation Account Allocation Committee, FAAC.

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