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Published On: Thu, Mar 6th, 2014

Why we can’t probe NNPC – AGF

Samuel UkuraBy Ikechukwu Okaforadi

The Auditor-General of the Federation (AGF), Samuel Ukura, yesterday explained that his office has refused to probe the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) over the alleged missing N20 billion, because it lacks the constitutional powers to do so.

Ukura who pointed out that his office has no constitutional powers to carry out a forensic audit of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) nor audit any other agency of government, quoted Section 85(2) of the Constitution which restricts it from auditing any agency of government.

Ukura stated this while briefing the Senate Committee on Finance, currently investigating the alleged unremitted $20 billion to the Federation Account by NNPC, even as the corporation failed to clearly give account of $2.4 billion it claimed to have paid as third party financing out of the $67billion realized from crude oil sales between January 2012 and July 2013.

The Ahmad Makarfi-led Finance committee had asked the Auditor-General to explain the link between his routine checks in the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the committee’s investigation.

The Committee specifically requested Ukura to furnish it with information on whether the periodic check his office was doing in the NNPC had to do with the investigation it is currently carrying out.

“We want you to in writing confirm to us what you are checking in the NNPC accounts. Does it cover what we are looking for. We will only make further directives on this matter when you write letter to us to tell us whether or not what you are doing covered our own area of investigation”, Makarfi said.

Again, following the confusion generated by its earlier memo to the senate committee regarding the $2.4 billion payment for third party financing, the NNPC requested the permission of the Committee to withdraw the memo in order to present a new one with more reconciled and comprehensive figure and data.

Group Managing Director of NNPC, Andrew Yakubu, said, “In view of the confusion in the earlier memo, there is need to further clarify and align figures. So we will withdraw the submission and will present it again”.

The Senate committee had earlier pointed out that figures in the memo as read out during yesterday’s hearing were confusing and contradicting, requesting a new memo with reconciled figures.

In addition, the Acting Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mrs. Sarah Alade, in her submissions to the Senate committee at the investigative hearing, stressed that the apex bank would ensure that the law was respected as it pertains to what fraction of the revenue generated by the NNPC should be remitted to the federation account.

Makarfi had asked the CBN boss to make the definite position of the apex bank known on what percentage of the generated funds of the NNPC should go to the Federation account.

“Look, the committee expects the CBN to provide details on the percentage that ought to be paid to the federation account by the NNPC. We should try to be as specific as possible if we are saying something. If you are not in a position to know, then it is wrong to assume”.

Makarfi however announced the conclusion of the Committee’s public sittings on the alleged missing monies, even as it directed agencies that still had some documents to submit to it to do so without further delay, noting that the committee would soon commence private sittings to analyse all submissions that it had received.

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