As NNPC wants Probe to cover 45 Withdrawals made from the account since 1999
By Henry Umoru
ABUJA- THE Senate, Thursday gave the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) an ultimatum of one week to, provide it with details of 22 withdrawals from Nigeria Liquidfied Natural Gas (NLNG) dividends account which amounts to a total sum of $3.1 billion within two weeks.
The Senate has also asked the Acting Director of Banking Services of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr Christopher Olumukore, who stood in for CBN Governor, Godwin Emefele to also submit within one week ” all the withdrawal authorisation you had including all the originating mandates and all the approvals”.
According to the Senate, the NNPC would submit the details of withdrawals from May 2015 till date.
Speaking in Abuja during the investigation by the Senate Committee on Gas on the alleged $1.05 billion withdrawn from the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, dividend in the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas, NLNG, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Albert Akpan, PDP Akwa Ibom North East, directed the NNPC to furnish the Committee with all dividends accruing from the NLNG and all withdrawals from the account since 2015.
Senator Bassey Akpan expressed dissatisfaction with the documents submitted to the Committee by the NNPC lamenting that the Nation’s Oil Corporation failed to present back up documents for the 22 withdrawal by NNPC from NLNG dividends account.
According to him, the Corporation has up till November 30 to supply the Committee secretariat with comprehensive list of the 22 withdrawals totalling $3.2 billion made from the NLNG Dividend Account with the CBN since 2015, adding that the committee would reconvene on December 1″ to look at all the submissions by both NNPC and CBN”.
Meanwhile, the Committee was told that over 45 withdrawals were made from the NLNG dividend account with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, since 1999.
In his presentation, the Chief Financial Officer, CFO, of the NNPC, Mr Isiaka Abdulrasaq, who stood in for Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mr Maikati Baru, unfolded to Senate Committee at its meeting in Room 224, Senate New Building that since the NLNG Dividend Account was opened with the CBN in 1999 not less than 45 withdrawals had been made from the account.
Abdulrazaq however told the Committee that the investigation should begin from 1999 when the account was established, just as he said that 44 withdrawals were carried out that account till now.
In trying to speak further and shed more light on the total cost of the withdrawals, the Chairman of the Committee stopped Abdulrazaq, saying that was not the information required from him by the Committee.
The Committee through Senator Emmanuel Paulker, PDP, Bayelsa Central countered the NNPC that they only needed details of withdrawals from 2015 till date.
Also in his reaction, Senator Osinachukwu Ideozu (Rivers West) however expressed concerns over the competence of Abdulrasaq to occupy the CFO position in NNPC against the backdrop of how he confronted the committee members.
At this point, Akpan stressed it to Abdulrazaq that he cannot dictate to the Committee how to go about its findings “so you must abide by our rules of engagement and not teach us our work”.
According to him, from the brief the NNPC submitted to the committee there were a lot of missing links which the Committee will require to do its job.
But, the Executive Director of Finance (NNPC) countered the Chairman of the Committee said that NNPC has provided the scheduled of dividends received from 2015 till date, but the supporting documents are still being combined.
Meanwhile at the meeting, Olumukore had earlier told the committee that the Dividend account domiciled with the apex bank was being operated by both NNPC and Ministry of Finance.
According to him, mandates for withdrawal from the account were usually from the NNPC and on occasions from the Finance Minister.
It would be recalled that Senate Committee on Gas last week said it had uncovered a fresh illegal withdrawal of $1.15 billion from the dividends accounts of the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation.
The new revelation is different from the $1.05 billion which the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Maikanti Baru, had earlier admitted to that was withdrawn following presidential directive.