By Olugbenga Salami
Senate Committee on Gas, yesterday, directed the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC and the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN to submit to it unfailingly, approving documents authorising withdrawal of $3.12billion from the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas, NLNG, within the last three years in 22 withdrawals.
But the management of the NNPC represented by the Chief Financial Officer, Alhaji Isiaka Abdulrasaq called for widening of scope of the investigation to cover the entire 45 withdrawals made from the account from 1999 till date.
Abdulrasaq, who wanted to shed more light on the total cost of the withdrawals was however cut short by the Committee Chairman, Senator Bassey Akpan (PDP Akwa Ibom North East) who said that was not the information required from him by the committee.
This led to one of the committee members, Senator Osinachukwu Ideozu (APC Rivers West) expressing concern about the competence of Abdulrasaq to occupy the CFO position in NNPC going by the way he had been confrontational with the committee in his answer to the questions posed to him.
Akpan then told Abdulrasaq that he cannot dictate to the Committee on how to go about its findings “so you must abide by our rules of engagement and not teach us our work”.
He said from the brief the NNPC submitted to the committee there were a lot of missing links which the Committee will require to do its job.
Akpan therefore directed the NNPC to furnish the Committee all dividends accruing from the NLNG and all withdrawals from the account since 2015 totalling 22 and amounting to $3.12billion.
According to him, the Corporation has up till November 30 to supply the Committee secretariat with comprehensive list of the 22 withdrawals totalling $3.2 billion made from the NLNG Dividend Account with the CBN since 2015.
The Committee Chairman also told the Acting Director of Banking Services of CBN, Mr. Christopher Olumukore, who stood in for CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele to also submit within one week “all the withdrawal authorisation you had including all the originating mandates and all the approvals”.
Akpan added that the CBN should also submit to the Committee by November 30 statement of account of the NLNG Dividend account domiciled with the the apex bank and that the committee will reconvene on December 1 “to look at all the submissions by both NNPC and CBN”.
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.
The Senate had last month mandated its Committee on Gas to investigate the alleged withdrawal of $1.05 billion by NNPC from the NLNG dividend account with CBN without due diligence.
The committee was also directed to look into other withdrawals that had been made by NNPC from the account since 2015 and report back to the Senate.