Minister of Petroleum Diezani Allison-Madueke
By Obinna Chima
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday said that movement of funds out of the controversial Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) foreign accounts are duly authorised by the oil corporation.
The apex bank also said that the opening of the accounts, which it described as domiciliary accounts, was backed by the Office of Account General of the Federation (OAGF).
The CBN in a statement explained that as banker and financial adviser to the federal government as well as ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), its actions and activities “fall within the principles of banker-customer relationship.”
There had been allegations at the public hearing of the Senate Joint Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) and Appropriation and Finance, that the CBN operates a secret foreign bank account at the JP Morgan. The NNPC Group Executive Director (Finance) Mr. Bernard Otti had told committees that the account was opened by the CBN on its behalf in 2002
But the CBN argued: “The CBN does not and cannot open any account for government and its agencies, unless and until clear and specific instructions, approvals or mandates are issued by the appropriate authorities.
“That the CBN/NNPC crude oil and gas Account was opened on 16th May, 2002, on the express instruction of the OAGF vide a mandate ref: No; CS/5385/S.23/94/DDF, dated 15th May, 2002.
“That the CBN/NNPC Gas Account was opened on 3rd February, 2009, following a similar instruction from the Account-General of the Federation, vide mandate ref. No.; FD/5385/S.71/1/178/DF, dated 28th January, 2009.”
Continuing, the banking sector watchdog said: “That in operating the said accounts, the NNPC on monthly basis issues instructions to the CBN on how much should be paid as Joint Venture Cash Call (JVC) and how much should be monetised and transferred to the federation account for distribution to the three tiers of government. A minimum balance of $10 million is always left in the revenue account.
“On the CBN/NNPC Gas Account, the NNPC issues monthly mandates to enable the CBN monetise and transfer the balance in the account to the federation account, leaving a minimum balance of $5 million.
That the role of the CBN, as banker to Government and MDAs, is limited to the following: Ensuring that lodgements/deposits into the accounts are consistent with their requisite mandates; providing customers with the statements of accounts.
In the case of the accounts in question, NNPC and OAGF are provided the statements of account on a weekly basis and ensuring that accounts are reconciled regularly.”