Missing $20 billion: National Assembly, Okonjo-Iweala lack powers to probe NNPC- Falana

Femi Falana

Mr. Falana said the practice of usurping the statutory powers of law enforcement agencies to carry out investigation by the National Assembly should stop

Senior lawyer and activist, Femi Falana, has accused the National Assembly and finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, of conducting a diversionary investigation into the alleged non-remittance of $20 billion oil money.

Mr. Falana said by law, the legislature and the finance minister lack the powers to examine the financial records of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, accused of diverting the money.

The lawyer said following the allegation by Central Bank governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, it was the responsibility of the Auditor General of the Federation, to carry out investigations and make its reports known to the National Assembly.

Read Mr. Falana’s position below:

The Limit of Investigative Powers of the National Assembly

Following the decision the finance minister and coordinating minister of the economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to investigate the allegations of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation had failed to remit huge funds to the federation account, I challenged the powers of the minister to reconcile or audit the said account. Thereafter, I questioned the powers of both chambers of the National Assembly to extend the oversight functions of federal legislators to cover areas that are exclusively reserved for other public officers and agencies of the federal government. While calling on the National Assembly to stop the diversionary probe, I requested the Auditor-General of the Federation to audit the federation account and submit the report of his findings to the National Assembly pursuant to section 85 of the Constitution. The request was ignored.

But as a result of the confusion created by Mr. Sanusi, who has been giving conflicting figures over the actual amount of the alleged missing fund from the federation account, the finance committee of the senate was compelled last week to concede that the accounts submitted by the NNPC be subjected to a forensic audit. It is indeed embarrassing that the finance minister and the senate did not know, ab initio, that they were not empowered to audit any of the accounts of the ministries and agencies of the federal government. Indeed, it is a shame that the CBN governor does not seem to have any rudiment understanding of the operations of the Federation Account which is kept in the Central Bank. Hence, his figures of the missing fund have varied from $49.8 billion to $12 billion and $20 billion while the reconciliation carried out by the Finance Minister revealed $10.8 billion!

Before the nation is further exposed to unprecedented ridicule by the CBN, NNPC and the Federal Ministry of Finance, the Auditor-General of the Federation should proceed to audit the Federation Account as well as the accounts of the NNPC and the CBN. In particular, the auditing of the CBN account should cover the illegal payment of over N2 trillion by the CBN to fuel importers in 2011 when the National Assembly appropriated the sum of N245 billion.

Before the general strike and mass protests of January 2012 the CBN governor had claimed that the amount involved was N1.3 trillion. The Auditor-General of the Federation should also examine the legal validity of the several billions of Naira withdrawn from the Federation Account without appropriation in the last 5 years and donated to certain individuals and institutions at the whim of Mr. Sanusi.

Having realized that the National Assembly lacks the legal power and the technical expertise to audit the Federation Account, it is hoped that the Senate and the House of Representatives will henceforth desist from engaging in endless probes and concentrate attention on the business of law making. If the National Assembly had seriously considered all the reports submitted annually to it by the Auditor-General of the Federation and taken appropriate actions on the findings, the nation would have been spared the ongoing shameful accusations and counter accusations credited to senior government officials. For the past 15 years, the National Assembly has carried out diversionary probes of several agencies and departments of the Federal Government without any concrete results.

It is pertinent to point out that the powers of investigation conferred on the National Assembly under section 89 of the Constitution are meant to be exercised for the sole purpose of law making. To that extent, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Offences Commission, and the Nigeria Police Force should be allowed to investigate complaints of corruption, fraud and other economic and financial crimes in line with the provisions of the relevant laws. The practice of usurping the statutory powers of such bodies to carry out investigation by the National Assembly should stop. More so, that reports of the investigation conducted by the National Assembly are usually turned over to the anti-graft bodies which have to commence fresh investigation in appropriate cases. This is what was happened last week when the Finance Committee of the Senate was compelled to call for an audit of the NNPC account in the middle of a probe.

Finally, if the federal legislators are genuinely interested in promoting accountability and transparency in the NNPC and in the entire oil and gas industry, this is the time to pass the much-delayed Petroleum Industry Bill. While federal parliamentarians have been beating their chests for enacting irrelevant legislations like the Anti-gay Act (same sex was never recognised under the law), the Prisoners Exchange Act (to swap convicts with the United Kingdom when there are no British prisoners in Nigeria) etc, the PIB has once again been quietly jettisoned by the National Assembly.


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  • This marketing expert has started again, speaking from both sides of the political coin. Pepper must drop from one side at least, since the other is going in June.

  • Okey

    It is noteworthy that Mr Femi Falana appears to be suspecting what some of us have all along held in suspicion. Which is that none of the parties involved in the complaint and investigation of the “missing” $49 Billion, $10.8 Billion, $12Billion, $67Billion and $20 Billion can be said to be operating in the interest of Nigerians or outside political motives. Take, for instance, Mr Sanusi who has resisted all attempts to ensure that the National Assembly oversights the CBN, but this same Sanusi will be dolling out Billions of Naira donations to any person or organ of his fancy and awarding mind-boggling contracts as though the CBN is his private estate. Yet, this self-same Sanusi is the one complaining of mismanagement and corruption in NNPC. What form of Mismanagement and Corruption is greater than “Accountability to None” ?

    Or, is it the overbearing APC member of the Senate Committee panel who I learnt is the brain behind the “Stop” instruction given to Okonjo-Iweala by the Senate Committee so that the man will source “independent” auditors that will audit NNPC for the Committee. This is the who ran Savannah Bank aground but turn round today to see and be campaigning that there is mismanagement and corruption in Jonathan’s govt.

    In accordance with tthe Constitution, the Auditor-General of the Federation (AGF), should be allowed to carry out this function as it is clearly his. Any person dissatisfied with his findings can head to the Court to challenge same. This NNPC issue has become too political to be of national interest.

    • Mutum

      “Dolling out billions of Naira donations to any person” can you name the person please otherwise you are a moron. What we know is that CBN and not Sanusi gave donations to UNIVERSITIES across Nigeria.

      • Okey

        Inska Mutum, you are an irredeemable moron. Even if he makes the donations to the Red Cross, a humanitarian organization, his actions must be subject to scrutiny and approval. I said here, Sanusi has resisted every attempt to make the National Assembly oversight his actions. I said “Accountability to None” is the worst form of corruption. Only a disorderly person will differ from this.

        I can see further how intelligent you are: Yesterday, Oduah bought armoured cars, not the Ministry of Aviation. Today, CBN made donation, Sanusi knew nothing about it.

    • Truthnodeydie

      You have goofed by playing politics with a serious issue. Your lust or love for GEJ has derailed your sense of reasoning. I initially thought you were making sense before you veered of.

      • Okey

        Truth-de-bitter, what are you ill at ease ? That interested politicians should not highjack Auditor-General’s duty. Or, that every govt official should be over-sighted by NASS ? Or, that those who ask for accountability should themselves be accountable ? Sure, it is only a disordered mind that will be against all of these, simply because the hate of Jonathan will provide “order” to a disordered soul.

  • Ikechukwu_67

    Mr Falana sir, You are dead wrong!! What you just wrote here is an attack on Sanusi in disguise just because you don’t like him. Sanusi could have churned out different figures but he alerted us to the ‘heists’ going on in the name of governance. Did the Auditor general of the federation ever did that in his last year report? Or last 2,3 even 4 years report? We need whistle blowers in Government, liking them or not is immaterial in this context. You are neither interested in the fact that 20 billion dollars was stolen, nor interested in the fact that a scam of ‘kerosene subsidy’ was perpetrated by NNPC. Everybody including NNPC,CBN,Finance and petroleum ministry agreed on one point: Money was spent by NNPC but never appropriated for in the budget by Government. You are not interested in that fact which is patently criminal. What gave NNPC the powers to spend over 8 billion dollars(At least NNPC said this in their clarifications of the ‘unaccounted 10.8 billion dollars )of Nigeria’s money for fuel subsidy when it was never appropriated for? The issue is simple we have a thief at hand let us catch him first. This idea of leaving a ‘seen thief” while looking for others is just diversionary. Mr Falana, We want to know Where our money is. It is as simple as that. Na wa o!!!

  • Tola

    This is very misleading. The Finance Minister never said she had powers to examine the financial records of the NNPC. Rather, she has called for a forensic audit by an independent body.

  • Black Moses

    Falana, Falana, Hmmmm, Ok oooo, how much is this comment worth abeg? I just wan subsidise it!