… Senate summons Finance Minister, A/General over the secret withdrawal of N7.5bn

… Money is withdrawn from NADDC levy account domiciled with CBN

… Transaction carried out by Presidency, BOI, Finance Ministry; Accountant General

… As FG denies Obaseki’s claim that N60bn was printed and shared in March

Senate Committee on Public Accounts has summoned the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed and the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris over the alleged secret withdrawal of N7.5 billion from the two per cent National Automotive Design and Development Council, NADDC, levy account domiciled with Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.

According to the report of the Auditor-General of the Federation, AuGF, which is being considered by the Committee, chaired by Senator Matthew Urhoghide, the first N3.8 billion was withdrawn in two instalments N2.8 billion in 2005 and N1 billion in 2006.

It added that the second time, N3.7 billion was withdrawn between March and December 2000 in three separate payments of N725 million, N1 billion and N2 billion.

When the committee chairman asked the director-general of NADDC, Aliyu Jelani, about the withdrawal, he said the money was withdrawn without the knowledge of the agency.

He said the agency had been writing to the Accountant General and the Minister of Finance on the need to refund the money, but there was no response.

Displeased by the development, the committee, therefore, resolved to summon the minister and the Accountant General to give an explanation on the fund.

The AuGF had in a query stated: “A total sum of N3.83 billion 6was irregularly withdrawn from the two per cent National Automotive Council Levy Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria, Abuja in two instalments of N2, 800,000,000 (in 2005) and N1, 036,000,000 (in 2006) by the Accountant-General of the Federation and the Federal Ministry of Finance as car loan to be granted for the Security Personnel Car Purchase Scheme Loan.

“The transaction was carried out by the Presidency in collaboration with the Bank of Industry, the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Accountant-General of the Federation without the involvement of NAC, the account owner.

“However the principal and the accrued interest from the fictitious loan have not been paid back nor are records available on the beneficiaries, agreement documents, moratorium and duration of the loan, the yearly interest rates accruable and how the fund will be paid back by the beneficiary.

“The director-general has been requested to intensify correspondence with the Minister of Finance, Accountant-General of the Federation and the Presidency to recover the fund (loan).”

On the N3.7 billion, the report said the sum was “irregularly withdrawn from the two per cent National Automotive Council Levy Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria between March-December 2000 in three separate payments of N725,000,000; N1,000,000,000 and N2,000,000,000 as ‘loan’ to NAFCON vide the Accountant General of the Federation internal memo to the Permanent Secretary, Budget Office of the Federation Ref No: DD/ (R&F)22. Vol. 1158 of 27/5/2003.

“The loan principal and the accumulated interest are yet to be paid since the year 2000.”

In a related development, the federal government has described as untrue and sad the comment by the Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, that it printed N60 billion in March to support federal allocation to states.

It also said despite Obaseki’s worry on the rising debt profile of the country saying that Nigeria is in ‘huge financial trouble’, “is not necessary as the country’s debt is still within sustainable limits.”

Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed reacted to Obaseki’s comment when probed by State House correspondents.

The Edo governor was quoted as saying at the Edo Transition Committee Stakeholders Engagement last week Saturday that, “When we got FAAC for March, the federal government printed additional N50-N60 billion to top-up for us to share.”

“This April, we will go to Abuja and share. By the end of this year, our total borrowings are going to be within N15-N16 trillion.”

But the Minister of Finance explained that what is distributed at the monthly Federation Account Allocation Committee, FAAC, meetings were generated revenue from government institutions available to the public at the ministry’s website.

“The issue that was raised by the Edo State governor for me is very, very sad because it is not a fact. What we distribute at FAAC is revenue that is generated and in fact distribution revenue is public information. We publish revenue generated by FIRS, the Customs and the NNPC, and we distribute at FAAC. So, it is not true to say we printed money to distribute at FAAC, it is not true”, she declared.

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