By Christiana Ekpa
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) yesterday denied the reports bothering on financial impropriety leveled against it in the audit query issued by the office of the Auditor General of the Federation (oAuGF) between 2014 and 2017.
Chief Financial Officer of NNPC, Isiaka Abdulrasak gave the assurance while responding to questions from members of the House Committee on Pubkic Accounts, Chaired by Hon. Wole Oke on the queries issued by the office of the Auditor General of the Federation (oAuGF) between 2014 and 2017.
Abdulrasak explained that the Corporation had addressed all the queries raised by the ouAGF, just as he pledged the Corporation’s resolve to ensure accountability and transparency of public funds.
He maintained that the Corporation will not hide anything from the public and indeed the National Assembly who represents the people.
He also assured that other issues raised by the Committee on Public Accounts about all NNPC subsidiaries would be addressed on the date chosen by the Committee.
In a related development, the House Committee on Public Accounts has set up 3 Ad-hoc Committees that would audit the accounts of three Commercial Banks involved in the collection of Stamp Duties between 2004 to 2019.
The banks are: Fidelity, First City Monument Bank (FCMB), and Wema Bank respectively.
Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, Hon. Wole Oke disclosed this at the resumed public hearing into the audit queries issued by the office of the Auditor General of the Federation (oAuGF) against Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) and all the financial institutions.
The resolution was passed sequel to the presentation of the bank statement submitted by Fidelity Bank of millions of naira declared as total collection from Stamp Duties.
In his intervention, Hon. Solomon Maren, who expressed reservation over the presentation, noted that lying before the Parliament attracts 2 years imprisonment while lying on oath attracts 5 years imprisonment without an option of fine.
He also called for holistic investigation of the accounts of all the banks with the view to ascertain the actual amount remitted for the period under review.
He argued that “the figures submitted by Fidelity before me are very surprising. I think we should conduct an audit on how much was generated. Sometimes I make at least 5 transactions and deductions of about N52 made per transaction.
“So the N2.8 million is not up to transaction that takes place in a branch talkless of all the branches,” he stressed.
Hon. Maren further noted that most of the MDAs who interfaced with various Standing Committees during the 2020 budget defence argued that they were unable to implement the capital component of the 2019 Appropriation Act due to paucity of funds, hence the need to ensure accountability of public funds collected on behalf of the Federation by the banks.
In the same vein, Hon. Jonathan Gaza, stressed the need for the banks to provide information relating to the terms of engagement, as well as the process involved and authorisation secured for the collection of Stamp Duties.
While responding, FCMB’s Head, Public Sector, Mr. H. Ali disclosed that the bank is up to date in its remittance till November 2019.
Executive Director of Fidelity Bank, Mr. Hassan Imam who observed that the invitation was recwived abiut 5pm on Monday, explained that the documents are bulky.
He disclosed that the bank is up to date in its remittance to Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
While ruling, Hon. Oke harped on the need for all the commercial banks to submit documentary evidences on the revenue colected on behalf of the country, adding that the Committee will “order investigation of you don’t have records.”
Hon. Oke maintained that NNPC remains the country’s cash cow needed to fund the 2020 budget, harped on the need for synergy to achieve the feat.