The Senate Committee on Public Accounts has been told by the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris that only the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, (NNPC) could give account of how N443 billion was paid as petroleum subsidy without appropriation by the National Assembly.
The Accountant General said this to the committee on Wednesday following a query issued by the Auditor General of the Federation Office in its 2016 report.
The query read in part: “During the examination of Subsidy records provided by FAAC, it was observed that total subsidy paid during the year 2016 was N443,940,559,974.80.
“Oil Marketers- Arrears for 2014 Paid in 2015 -Payments during The Year 2016 without Interest 403,321,449,046.76 Interest & Forex Differential 40,619,110,928.04 totalling N443,940,559,974.80 Subsidy Deducted at Source By NNPC .
“This reflects continuing weaknesses in the budgeting process adopted by the Federal Government.”
The Committee also summoned the Governor of Central Bank, Godwin Emefiele to appear before it over the disappearance of $9.5 million interest from Investment Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT), Royalty and Foreign Excess Crude.
The Auditor General’s report had accused the apex bank of failing to present documents supporting the investment for verification.
The Senate in its observation expressed disappointment that no letter backed the investment of the fund and the actual amount invested was not made known.
The query reads in part: “During the examination of transfers to Forefinger Excess PPT/Royalty and Foreign Excess Crude Accounts it was observed that during the year 2016, amount totalling $6 million and $3.5 million were credited to the Foreign PPT/Royalty and Foreign Excess Crude Account as interest on Funds investments.
“The authority for placing the funds which yielded the above interests totalling $9.5 in deposit account, the principal sums deposited, the tenor and rate of interest were not made available for audit verification.
“This observation had also been a subject of my reports since 2017 without any positive response from the Central Bank of Nigeria
“Records made available for audit further revealed that the balance in the foreign PPT/Royalty and Foreign Excess Crude accounts as at 28th December 2016 were USD0.00 and USD, 251,826 respectively
“This suggests the foreign PPT/Royalty was depleted before the year ended.
“The Accountant General has been requested to provide the authority for the funds invested, the tenor of the investment, rate unrest payable, certificate for the funds invested and forward the same for audit verification.”
When asked by the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Mathew Urhoghide, to provide documents on the issue raised by his Committee, the Accountant General could not provide any document.
Na’Abba Accuses Governors Of Killing Democracy In Nigeria
A former speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Ghali Umar Na’Abba, has lampooned governors in the country saying they have ruined democracy.
Na’Abba, while speaking in an interview with BBC Hausa Service yesterday, said state governors have hijacked democracy, manipulating primaries of their political parties for their cronies to emerge.
“The governors have drawn a line in politics in which if you are not their boy you won’t become anybody or get elected at all levels. This is happening in both the PDP and APC.
“Democracy should always give room for interaction among people and they should be allowed to vote the right person they want. But the governors have since changed that, there i…
Appeal Court Rekindles Jegede’s Hope Of Sacking Aketi With Inconclusive Judgment
The Court of Appeal sitting in Akure, the Ondo State capital, yesterday partially upheld the appeal by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), in the October 10, 2020 governorship election in the state.
Jegede, who is challenging Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu’s victory, had approached the appellate court after the tribunal dismissed his petition for lacking in merit.
His counsel, Onyeachi Ikpeazu, had asked the court to sack Akeredolu and his deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, because they were allegedly not properly nominated by the All Progressives Congress (APC).
But the respondents’ counsel, Akin Olujimi (SAN), for Akeredolu and Aiyedatiwa, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) for the APC and Charles Edosanmwon (SAN) for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), faulted all the arguments of Jegede’s counsel.
They contended that the case was a pre-election matter.
In the lead judgment by Justice Theresa Ngolika Orji-Abadua, the court partly allowed Jegede’s appeal on issues one, two, four and five.
She dismissed the appeal on issues three, six and seven.
In their judgments, Justice H. A. Barka, Justice J. G. Abundaga and Justice Andenyangtso Alli dismissed the appeal for lacking in merit.
Justice Orji-Abadua said the Electoral Act cannot override provisions of the Constitution on qualification or disqualification of a candidate in an election.
“The appeal is partly allowed and partly dismissed,” she said.
The PDP and Jegede vowed to challenge the decision.
The party’s spokesman Kennedy Peretei said in a statement: “In concluding her lead judgment, Justice Orji-Abadua said the appeal was partially dismissed and partially allowed. To the ordinary man in the street, the judgment was ‘inconclusive’.
“The kernel of the Eyitayo Jegede/PDP petition was whether or not a gross violation of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) should be allowed to stay; whether or not Mai Mala Buni, as a sitting Governor of Yobe State, can double as National Chairman of the APC, to sign the nomination of Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) for the governorship election.
“While the Court of Appeal acknowledged that it was a violation of the Constitution, it still went ahead to dismiss the appeal.
“We are still studying the details of the judgment, by virtue of the fact that it was delivered via Zoom. But we have sufficient grounds to appeal the decision of the court. We are confident the Supreme Court, which is the highest court in the land, will do justice.”
Akeredolu has extended an olive branch to Jegede, urging him to join hands with him in building the state.
Addressing reporters, Akeredolu said: “I have said this over and over: this case itself is so flimsy for me as a person. And it is clear because where you believe that you can go through the back door and upturn the will of the people, it is not going to work.
“We had an election in which the party won 15 out of the local governments; you won three. You are not contesting the result of the election, but you are hinging your petition on the Chairman of the party who signed the nomination that was forwarded to INEC.
“For me, it is clear. With God on our side, no matter where they go about this case, it will be the same result.
“It is just like when Yoruba say that if you throw the cutlass up 50 times by the time it’s landing, it will land on its side.
“Tayo, for one reason or the other, I said to him, we don’t need to pursue this case. I had called him once or twice. I don’t see why we are going about this action; that both of us can come together to work for the benefit of the state. That is my own belief.
“I respect him, but he must have a reason behind him pursuing this case the way he’s pursuing it. It is either the party is the one pushing him or he’s the one pushing himself. Whichever one it is, I know there must be something behind what he’s doing.
“But I can assure him, like a man who is building with straw, I can assure him nothing will come out of this case.
“I will call on him again for the umpteenth time: let him come, let us work together to build that state and let us work together for the Southwest and let us work together for Nigeria.
“Importantly, he is one person that I have a lot of respect for; he has respect for me. I see him as a brother. But in election matters, you cannot avoid this kind of contestation.”
Agbakoba Rubbishes Restructuring, Wants Regional Autonomy In Constitution Review Package
A former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), has asked the National Assembly to consider regional autonomy in the review of the 1999 Constitution.
Following calls for restructuring, among other issues, the National Assembly had recently held public hearings across the country on the proposed review of the 1999 Constitution.
Speaking on the review process in a statement yesterday, Agbakoba said regional autonomy is the best solution to some of the challenges facing the country.
“Calls for restructuring have, in my personal view, become a catch-all phrase that has introduced more confusion than solution. I believe the simple way to go is by regional autonomy,” he said.
“Regional autonomy refers to the governance and administration of a federating unit in the interest of the local people, according to their aspirations. Nigeria is made up of multi-ethnic nations managed by a central authority. This model has proved unsuccessful.
“Europe understood that diversity is best managed by regional autonomy. Switzerland has four ethnic groups. Each of them shares the presidency through four cantons that make up their federating units.
“According to Prof. George Obiozor, even though Quebec is the only fully French-speaking province, yet Canada is bilingual for the sake of Quebec. On the other hand, Yugoslavia mismanaged its diversity and the result was the emergence of six distinct countries. The same fate befell Czechoslovakia, now the nations of Czechs and Slovaks.”
He said devolution of powers is a related concept to regional autonomy, as this means the transfer of powers from one level of government to another and vice versa.
The senior lawyer also suggested that legitimacy can be conferred on the constitutional review process by full involvement and incorporation of the leaders of traditional and ethnic nationalities.
“Prof. Ben Nwabueze has indicated that ethnic nationalities are the true representatives of Nigeria. To quote him, ‘Nigeria has no territory other than the traditional territories inhabited by its constituent nationalities from time immemorial – Yorubaland, Igboland, Hausaland, Tivland, Kanuri, Ijaw, etc. It is the ethnic nationalities that ceded or granted sovereign powers of government over their territories to Britain which makes them (i.e. the ethnic nationalities) the original and primary stakeholders in the Nigerian state,’” Agbakoba said.
He also expressed optimism that more would be achieved by giving prominent seats to the leaders of traditional and ethnic nationalities.
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