Reps order NNPC to refund N326bn

The House of Representatives, committee on Public Account (PAC) yesterday ordered the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to refund N236 billion to the coffers of the federal government within one month as contained in the query of the Auditor-General of the Federation which it failed to defend before the committee despite several invitations.

Chairman of the committee, Rep Solomon Adeola gave the order yesterday at the resumed session of the committee where the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mr Andrew Yakubu was billed to appear along with the management of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Petroleum Products Pricing Agency (PPPRA) and the Accountant General’s of the Federation (AGF) among others over the Auditor-General query on the fuel subsidy regime.

Yakubu had detailed the General Manager, Process and Procedures, Mr. Abdullahi Kalami to represent him instead of the corporation’s Executive Director Finance and Accounts, Mr Bernard Otti.

The committee turned back Mr Kalami on the ground that he was not competent to defend the corporation on such a sensitive matter and ruled that it should pay the N236 billion to the consolidated Accounts of the Federation within one month.

Adeola said the committee took the decision as the last resort since the corporation had refused to provide necessary documents or defend itself and that the PPPRA and other relevant agencies had appeared before the committee and submitted that the money was with the corporation.

The Executive Director of Finance and Accounts of the corporation, Mr Otti however made a sudden appearance at the sitting after about three hours of the resolution of the committee claiming that he was on medication. The committee turned down his request to make his presentations and advised him to liaise with its secretariat to enable it attend to other agencies that were waiting for their own businesses.

Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday clarified that the N2.8 billion being queried upon by the PAC was used for the reconstruction of a new office complex for its Port Harcourt branch and not for the renovation of the old complex as earlier claimed.

Deputy Governor of the CBN, Corporate Services, Mr Suleiman Barau who made the clarification before the committee yesterday supported his claims with relevant documents including the photographs showing the old and the new buildings side by side.

Consequently, the committee cleared the CBN on the query but insisted that its members would still visit Port Harcourt for on the spot assessment of the old and new buildings while the bank should also be ready to provide additional information on the contract where necessary.

On the query raised on the N844 million property purchased for the National Planning Commission (NPC) by the CBN, the committee stepped down and requested for additional documents from both parties to enable it get to the root of the transaction.

The committee however frowned at the sale of the official residence of the CBN governor built on an acre of land at a prime location in Abuja at a giveaway price of N160 million to a private company  and directed the bank to proceed to the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) today to find out the owner of the company and its directors.

 

By Abbas Jimoh and Musa Abdullahi Krishi, May 14, 2013