Senate For Showdown With NNPC Over Illegal Withdrawals From NLNG

The Nigeria Senate is set for a Showdown with NNPC over alleged unauthorized withdraw from NLNG dividend account as its representatives from NNPC recently implored the Lawmakers to extend its investigation to 1999 when the account was opened.

The controversial withdrawals from the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) dividends account may take a life of its own life as it runs from 22 since 2015 to 45 from 1999. The Red Chamber is leaving no stone unturned to carry out a thorough investigation.

Speaking in Abuja during the investigation by the Senate Committee on Gas on the alleged $1.05 billion withdrawn from the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, dividend in the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas, NLNG, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Albert Akpan,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 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.

However, the Chief Financial Officer, (CFO), of the NNPC, Mr. Isiaka Abdulrasaq, who stood in for Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mr. Maikanti Baru, in his presentation, 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 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.

This elicited a rebuke from the chairman of the committee who interjected, telling Abdulrazaq 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

Also in his reaction, Senator Osinachukwu Ideozu (Rivers West) 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 could not dictate to the Committee how to go about its findings “so you must abide by our rules of engagement and not attempt to teach us our work”.

According to him, from the brief the NNPC submitted to the committee there were 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.

The Senate gave the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) an ultimatum of one week to provide it with details of 22 withdrawals from 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”.

NNPC was given up till November 30 to supply the Committee secretariat with comprehensive list of the 22 withdrawals totaling $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, 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.

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