Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The Senate Committee on Appropriations thursday resolved to invite the Industry, Trade and Investment Minister, Niyi Adebayo and Acting Managing Director of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Terhembe Nongo, to appear before it on Monday over the N15 billion allocated to a private firm in the ministry’s budget proposal.
This was sequel to the presentation of the report of the Senate Committee on Trade and Investment to the main appropriations committee by its Chairman, Senator Rose Oko who informed the committee that, during the budget defence of the ministry, she asked the minister and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry to explain the purpose of the N15bn voted for a private firm in the budget but the duo were unable to explain.
“When they came for budget defence, the minister and the Permanent Secretary said they didn’t know anything about the issue as it is between Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority and the company.
According to her, the committee had asked for the shareholding structure from the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami but the documents provided did not reveal the identity of the shareholders.
Oko who declined to reveal the name of the company, told the appropriation committee that her committee had asked NEPZA to give details of what happened but the managing director’s response was that the money was allocated to them in 2017 and that as of that time, the company was not in existence.
“We have requested the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority to give details of what happened and their response was that the money was allocated to them in 2017 and as at then the company was not in existence.”
Oko said the money was released in 2017 to the company when it had not been registered at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
“The company was registered in 2018; meanwhile, the money was already allocated in 2017, which is domiciled in CBN. More so, N15billion was released two days ago to the same company.”
The Chairman of the Appropriation Committee, Senator Jibrin Barau, told his colleague that the committee will invite the NEPZA MD, the minister and Permanent Secretary of the ministry to appear on Monday to shed more light on the issue.
“We will create time for you to come with the Minister and the Permanent Secretary alongside the MD of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority on Monday by 11am to correct this anomaly.”