By Emman Ovuakporie
ABUJA – THE House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts Tuesday summoned the Accountant General to the Federation,AGF, Mr Jonah Otunla, the Central Bank of Nigeria,CBN and the Budget office to explain why the sum of N59.6billion subsidy money meant for Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC allegedly got missing.
The money which the Budget office and Accountant General’s office claimed was disbursed to NNPC was not received by the corporation.
Officials of NNPC told members of the committee that all attempts to make the budget office and AGF do a formal letter stating that the said N59.6bn was not cash backed failed.
At this juncture, Chairman of the committee, Rep Olamilekan Adeola said,”what you are telling this committee is that at no point in time you received any money and that it was not cash backed. ”
“You will do us a formal letter explaining to the committee that at no time you received N59.6bn but Deliotte Accounting firm in its report claimed the fund was disbursed. ”
“Towards this direction, this committee hereby summons the CBN, AGF and Budget office to explain why such sum of money was disbursed without any documentary evidence. ”
“NNPC for now cannot be indicted until otherwise proven when AGF and Budget office come out with evidence that the money was disbursed and cash backed. ”
Adeola explained further that “once it is affirmed that the disbursement was not cash backed NNPC will be left off the hook. ”
The officials of NNPC were excused from the venue of the meeting.
Vanguard recalls that NNPC had earlier met with the committee on March 11 on the issue but the explanation given then by Mr Bernard Otti an Executive Director on the missing fund was not satisfactory.
Mr Otti also appeared before the Committee without the relevant documents demanded by the Committee to justify the need for the amount.
Mr Otti could only inform the Committee that the N59 billion in question was used for the payment of oil subsidy for the months of January to June of 2006,the submission which the Committee rejected over the failure of the Corporation to back up its submission with all relevant documents.
Apparently angered by the inability of the NNPC representative to produce the needed document such as the names of the beneficiaries in the subsidy,the amount involved,the receipts and bank statement Adeola summoned the GMD of the Corporation,Mr Andrew Yakubu to personally appear before it within two weeks with all the relevant document on the transaction.
The Committee frowned at what it described as lukewarm attitude with which the NNPC treated the matter of such a nature that involved such a huge amount of the tax payers’ money.
The NNPC, AGF,CBN and Budget are expected to appear before the committee on April 1.