The House of Representatives yesterday summoned the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, to appear before it and explain the whereabouts of an alleged missing 5.5 million Euros.
“The money was to go into the Nigeria Sovereign Wealth Fund as operational cost.“ Managing Director, Nigerian Sovereign Wealth Fund, Uche Orji, had told the House Ad hoc committee investigating the usage of looted and recovered funds that the money, which is supposed to come from the government of Ireland, had not been credited to the account of the agency, at the time of filing this report.
“But a letter he read before the committee, however, suggested that the money was sent to Nigeria, leaving lawmakers at a loss as to where it was lodged.
“Part of the monies recovered and expected to be transferred to the NSWF for its operations, also include 311 million Pounds from the United States and 4.2 million pounds from the United Kingdom.
“While Orji said the 311 million Pounds were transferred to the fund but not yet spent, he said the 4.2 million pounds and 5.5 million Euro were yet to be received.
“He said: “We are aware that an agreement has been reached between the Ministry of Justice and the counterpart countries. We have been notified about these agreement and that the funds will be transferred to us. But we are yet to receive the fund at the NSIA.”
“Asked whether the money was sent to Nigeria, he said: “All that I know is that we were asked to send an account and we have sent the account to the Central Bank but we are not involved in those negotiations.”
“However, while reading from a letter given to him by the committee, Orji said: “I am directed to refer to your letter that the sum of 5.5 million Euros be credited to the FGN Recovery Account.”.
On what credit means, he said “it means that the money has been sent.”.
“However, a member of the committee, Edun Olarenwaju, said : “It is important that we invite the Account General to come and interface with the NSIA. If you recall, yesterday (Tuesday), I challenged the Accountant General on whether that money was missing.
”Now, NSIA is saying they don’t know where the money is. So, there is need for two of them to appear before this committee tomorrow, so we can find a lasting solution to this. 5.5 million Euro is not a small money”.
“Chairman of the Committee ruled that the Managing Director should appear before the committee today to interface with the Accountant General and the Minister of Finance on the issue.
“The House also quizzed the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa, representative of the Nigeria Navy, Rear Admiral Abraham Adaji, and the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, and turned back the representative of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, and the Federal Inland Revenue Service.
“Chairman of ICPC, Prof Bolaji Owasanloye, told the committee that so far, the commission had recovered N7.5 billion looted fund, out of which the government accessed over N5 billion, leaving a balance of N2.1 billion in the account.
“He said the agency was adopting preventive measures in its operation, which he said explained why its recovery had been slow.
“He said the commission had also helped government recover about N188 billion between 2019 and 2020 from money released to MDAs which they did not need.
“According to him, the commission is currently investigating about 37,000 certificates which are supposed to be fake for a particular ministry but refused to disclose the name of the Ministry.
“Owasanloye said the ICPC had an assets recovery account, where recovered loots were usually deposited, adding that the commission had no business with Consolidated Revenue Fund.
“He said as a way forward, government could ask all its agencies to submit a quarterly report to it, adding that such a directive would ensure that all agencies were updated in their records and also keep government up to date with monies available for use, which they might not be aware of.
““There are some monies that we have successfully stopped from leaving government account. For example, we do investigations and discovered that an agency has requested for money that it does not require or the process has been dealt with. We write to the Minister and say, don’t pay out this money for this reason.
“That is called restraint. The money never come to us, but it shows in our record as recovery. For example, in 2019, about N41 billion was restrained in that manner when we did investigations in academic institutions that had apparently padded their payroll. In 2020, it was N147 billion.
“We look at your books and review it thoroughly and if all expenditures has been made and you are still having money you are not supposed to have, the Minister of Finance will not issue an order that the money should not be released.
“Such will reflect in our report that ICPC has recovered that money, but it is not cash and not in our account. It is also another efficient way of anti-corruption prevention. But it is not money that came to us,” he said.
“On his part, the Chairman of EFCC, Bawa, informed the lawmakers that the $43 million recovered from an apartment in Ikoyi years ago, was transmitted to the federal government.“On the disparity in the number of vessels handed over to them by the Nigeria Navy, Bawa said he would have to reconcile the figures of the Navy with that of the commission before making any comment.
“Our records are our records. Maybe they handed over vessels to NIMASA and thought it was EFCC,” he said.
“But the committee, however, told him that apart from disparity in the number of vessels handed over to them by the Navy, there was also a stark difference between the figures presented by the commission and the Ministry of Justice.