Nigeria’s Senate Committee in disarray over report of missing $20 billion probe

May 29, 2014 | Government & Regulations, Nigeria

Abuja, Nigeria | – The Nigerian Parliament Senate Finance Committee is reported to have cleared the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) of any wrongdoing, saying neither $49.8 billion nor $20 billion was missing.

This verdict is a massive blow to the allegation made by the suspended Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had failed to remit $49.8 billion to the Federation Account over a 19-month period.

The committee, in a report on the probe of Sanusi’s allegation, which was contained in a letter he wrote to President Goodluck Jonathan in September last year, also said it could not reconcile how the CBN governor arrived at the said amount. Specifically, the committee said it found that the CBN, NNPC, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Petroleum Resources had reconciled $47 billion of the unaccounted for revenue, which it said had been remitted into the Federation Account.

The probe was a fallout of Sanusi’s allegation when he said NNPC had failed to remit $49.8 billion to the Federation Account. But while appearing before the committee in December 2013, Sanusi later alleged that of the initial $49.8 billion said to be unaccounted for, NNPC only failed to remit $12 billion; he was later to revise it to $10.8 billion, before revising the amount for the third time to $20 billion. The committee’s report, obtained by NOGTEC, stated: “The committee could not see how the figure of $49.8 billion was arrived at by the CBN governor for instance.

“The CBN governor at the first hearing had put forward the figure of US$12 billion as monies to be reconciled and changed his position to US$20 billion at subsequent hearing. At the conclusion of his written submission, he posited that it could be US$20 billion, US$10.8 billion or anything in between.” On the alleged unremitted $20 billion, the 73-page report, however, said it found that the sum of $218.0 million was considered as the Federation Account’s share of third party financing that was still in dispute. It also noted that another sum of $447.8 million, which it described as the Federation Account’s share from the $6.815 billion listings by NNPC on behalf of the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) remained in dispute.

Also in dispute, according to the report, is $262 million which the committee described as expenses incurred by the NNPC in respect of holding strategic reserves and pipeline maintenance and management cost/capital expenditure. The committee therefore asked the corporation to refund the $262 million into the Federation Account, saying it could not satisfactorily defend it.

The report also said the total kerosene subsidy paid but not appropriated for by the National Assembly between 2012 and 2013 was $4.430 billion adding, however, that the amount might exceed this figure because the certification by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) for the period was on an interim basis.

On the expenditure incurred by the corporation on subsidy which was not captured by the Appropriation Act, the committee advised President Goodluck Jonathan to prepare and present to the National Assembly a supplementary budget “to cover the expenditure in the sum of N90.6 billion for PMS (premium motor spirit) subsidy 2012 and the sum of N685.910 billion for kerosene subsidy expended without appropriation by the National Assembly.”

The committee, however, criticised the Ministry of Finance, CBN and the NNPC for what it described as lack of coordination in record keeping with regards to remittances of crude oil proceeds.

Meanwhile, the Vice Chairman, Senate Finance Committee on Finance, Senator Bukola Saraki, said on Thursday that the committee did not absolve the Minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, and the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, of any wrong doing in the report submitted to the Senate on Wednesday.

Saraki, who is representing Kwara Central at the red chamber, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Bankole Omishore, maintained that as an active member of the committee, the report actually indicted the minister and the NNPC.

“I can say on behalf of the Committee that these media reports bear no correlation to the content of the Senate Committee report and I would urge the public to disregard it in its entirety.

“The Committee is yet to receive the report on the forensic audit and independent analysis on the subject clearly indicate we have a lot of grounds to cover in order to determine the level of culpability or otherwise of agency on the alleged non-committal.

“Therefore, to suggest any clearance for anybody at this stage is out of the question. I will further advise that the media should wait for the senate to release the details of the Committee report to the public before they jump into spurious conclusions.”