By Umar Muhammad Puma, Ikechukwu Okaforadi & Etuka Sunday
Auditor-General of the Federation, Mr. Samuel Ukura yesterday informed members of the House of Representatives that his office has sent out 20 auditors to scrutinize the financial records of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Ukura made the disclosure when he appeared before the House Committee on Public Accounts (PAC) to defend the 2014 budget estimates of his office.
“We’ve trained 20 professionals in the oil and gas sector auditing last year, and as I speak to you, they’re already on the field auditing the NNPC”, he said.
Giving a background of the performance of the 2013 budget of his office, Ukura said only 57 percent of capital budget was achieved as only N374 million out of the N627 million capital vote was released to it.
Ukura said recurrent expenditure achieved a 100 percent implementation, saying salaries of staff got paid while hundreds of staff underwent trainings on different areas of their career for which N60 million was expended.
He further stated that his office procured six vehicles out of the 15 it earlier planned to purchase, adding that N100 million out of the N180 million budgeted for vehicles was returned to the Accountant-General’s Office as Innoson Motors could not supply them.
According to him, the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) warned against purchasing outside Innoson Motors, in line with the policy of encouraging local manufacturers.
But noticing some irregularities in the figures submitted by the AG in his documents, members of the committee ordered him to provide them with all documents and receipts of official transactions in 2013.
They also queried the reason for the N100 million paid back to government coffers when other projects of national importance abound.
Consequently, his budget defence was shifted to next week Tuesday to help sort out the inconsistencies contained in the documents he submitted.
Why we can’t probe NNPC now, by EFCC, ICPC
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and its sister agency, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), yesterday gave different reasons why they will not investigate the alleged non remittance of $20 billion to the federation account by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
On his part, Chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Lamorde, said the commission cannot commence probe of the alleged missing $20 billion now, until the Senate Committee on Finance has completed its investigations into the allegation and forwarded the report to it.
However, his ICPC counterpart, Olu Aina, who is the acting chairman of the ICPC Board, said the account of NNPC is very complex and sophisticated, adding that the agency neither has nor could it afford to hire the expertise required to probe the NNPC’s accounts.
The EFCC chairman, while responding to questions from the senators during this year’s budget defence in the Senate by the commission, said that investigating corruption requires systematic and not fire brigade approach.
“The issue about the NNPC is already being investigated by the National Assembly. For every investigation, once the National Assembly is on it we have to wait until they conclude”, Lamorde said.
Citing the case of the fuel subsidy scam which the agency is handling, he said the EFCC did not go into the matter until the National Assembly had concluded its own part of the investigation and forwarded its findings to the commission.
“We can’t just jump into something that still being investigated by the National Assembly. It’s not a mob kind of thing. There must be a sequence of events that would lead us to taking decision. Let the hearing of the National Assembly be concluded. Normally when it is concluded it is forwarded to us for investigation”, he said.
Speaking further, he said the commission would charge those involved to court if it has gathered implicating facts against them, adding that the EFCC cannot go to court to prosecute the NNPC based on assumptions.
Nevertheless, the EFCC chairman said that about 117 convictions were secured successfully by the commission in 2013 at the High Court level, adding that 30 convictions have been secured this year at the High Court, while the commission targets 150 convictions this year.
He said due to poor funding, the commission resorted to using internal solicitors for prosecution, even though it is considering hiring more lawyers and training them to ensure faster adjudication in corruption cases before the commission.
Meanwhile, the commission sought the Senate’s intervention through 2014 appropriation to enable it complete its eleven story office complex in Abuja.
He said poor funding halted the completion of the projects, adding that though the main building has been completed, the adjacent ones are still far from being completed.
On the other hand, the acting chairman of the ICPC board, Aina, while responding to questions on why the ICPC is still yet to probe NNPC, he said: “The account of NNPC is so sophisticated that it would require hiring financial experts to study it for needed investigation, the cost of which however, cannot be afforded by us due to underfunding”.
He also said ICPC has confiscated 104 properties from civil servants living above their means, adding that section 20 of the ICPC would be focused on to enable it deal with corrupt civil servants.
The Senate committee on Drugs and Narcotics, Financial Crimes and Anti Corruption, led by Victor Lar (PDP Plateau), commended the EFCC for making tremendous progress in securing convictions of about 117 persons.
Unremitted revenue: NNPC cries foul over $22.8bn fresh allegation
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), yesterday raised alarm over fresh allegation of $22.8 billion unremitted oil revenue. The corporation described the allegation as an orchestrated campaign of calumny designed to tarnish its reputation by some unscrupulous elements.
In a press release signed by Dr. Omar Farouk Ibrahim, Acting Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the corporation, the NNPC cited the deliberate misrepresentation of the presentation made by the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) before the Joint House Committee probing the Berne Declaration Report as an example of the negative campaign against it.
“Some of the reports had sensational headlines alleging that NEITI had uncovered fresh unremitted $22.8 billion oil revenue by the NNPC.
“However the body of the stories were totally different from the headlines in terms of message and content,” Dr. Ibrahim said.
He noted that careful perusal of the original presentation made by the NEITI executive secretary indicated that the sensational headlines were mere inventions calculated to cast aspersion on the image of the NNPC and heat up the polity.
“We wish to state that there is nothing farther from the truth. NNPC has a copy of the presentation made by Hajiya Zainab Ahmed, Executive Secretary of NEITI, and nowhere did she allege that NNPC failed to remit $22.8 billion to the Federation Account.
“We are convinced that there is a conspiracy by some groups or individuals to drag down the name of the corporation by whatever means possible”, he said.