Oil giant Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is in the news again – over its bid to transfer $1.2 billion from commercial banks to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The NNPC’s action is “panicky”, the All Progressives Congress (APC) said yesterday, alleging that it was all to cover up alleged sharp practices by the corporation.
The APC alleged that revenues belonging to the federation were fraudulently deposited in local banks to yield huge interests for the officials, who the party did not name.
It renewed its call on President Muhammadu Buhari to probe the whereabouts of the tax paid to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and dividends paid to the NNPC by the Nigerian Liquified natural Gas (NLNG) Ltd.
In a statement by its National spokesman, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the APC said the Federal Government should probe the whereabouts of the dividends paid to the NNPC by the NLNG, as well as the taxes paid to the FIRS Federation Account prior to the latest payment in June 2015.
Mohammed said the call had become more urgent against the backdrop of published reports that the NNPC withdrew $1.2 billion from banks so it could place the money with the CBN.
He described the move by the NNPC as a panic reaction to the expose by APC that over $4 billion dollars was missing in past dividends paid to the NNPC by the NLNG.
The statement reads: ‘’Whereas NLNG’s dividends are paid to NNPC’s account with JP Morgan, from where they are supposed to be paid into the Federation Account, in accordance with the law, some unscrupulous officials of the corporation have apparently been moving such funds to local banks so they can collect huge commissions on them.
‘’Now that the cat has been let out of the bag, they have started moving the funds from the banks to the CBN. We believe what we are seeing now is just a tip of the iceberg, hence the need for the authorities to call the NNPC officials to give account of the paid NLNG dividends to date.’’
“Any delay in calling the officials to account for the dividends may give them enough time to cover their tracks, said the party, in addition to the dangers posed to the banks – and by extension the economy – by the sudden withdrawal of such a huge fund from the NNPC’s accounts with them.
‘’The top officials of the NNPC and others who met on Monday and decided to withdraw the $1.2 billion from the corporation’s account to the CBN must be asked a number of questions, including their motive for the decision and the whereabouts of the commissions paid on such funds.”
The APC’s spokesman said that notwithstanding the attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of Nigerians, the Federal Government must remain undaunted in unravelling what happened to the dividends as well as previous taxes paid by the NLNG, as part of ongoing efforts to plug all financial leakages, ensure the payment into the Federation Account of all funds and stop the looting of the treasury.
He said: ‘’It is not by accident that until the advent of the Buhari Administration that has decided to enthrone transparency in governance, no one has heard anything about NLNG dividends and taxes, while the funds therefrom have not been shared as they should have been. This is not right.
‘’A situation in which funds meant for all Nigerians are eaten up by a few will no longer be tolerated. Those who are opposed to the efforts by the Buhari Administration to clear the rot left behind by the past government and restore transparency to the system are enemies of Nigeria.’’