Adedayo Akinwale and Udora Orizu in Abuja
The House of Representatives yesterday resolved to investigate the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for engaging in extra budgetary spending of over $500 million from Nigeria Export Supervision Scheme Fund.
The House is also to investigate the CBN and the Ministry of Finance over another extra-budgetary spending of about N700 billion from the same fund in contravention of Section 80 of the constitution which stipulates that such funds must be appropriated before being utilised.
It also directed its Committee on Public Account to carry out the investigation and report back to the House within four weeks.
These resolutions were sequel to the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance titled: ‘On the need for urgent investigation and audit of the Nigeria Export Supervision Scheme Fund in view of the joint rendition of account to the Auditor General of the Federation by the Ministry of Finance’, sponsored by Hon. Abdullahi Sa’ad Abdulkadir.
Moving the motion, Abdulkadir explained that the Pre-shipment Inspection of Export Act of 1966 requires that prior to the export of any goods from Nigeria, it must be inspected by an inspection agent, which in turn is required to issue, where appropriate, a Clean Certificate of inspection to the overseas buyer of the goods.
He said both oil and non-oil export are liable to pre-shipment inspection in respect of their quality, quantity and price while the inspection agent is required to issue to the exporter a Provisional Certificate of inspection.
The lawmaker also said upon loading of the goods and conduct of a final inspection, where the goods satisfy the required thresholds as to quantity, quality and price, the inspection agent will issue a Clean Certificate of inspection.
He further said the inspection agent is obligated to furnish weekly reports of successfully conducted pre-shipment inspection to the Federal Ministry of Finance, Federal Ministry of Commerce (now Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment) and the CBN.
According to him, “Section 80(1) & (2) of the constitution requires revenue that accrue to the federation, which is not constitutionally required to be paid into a specific fund, must be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund, while the Act creates a Special Fund, and the balances in that Fund is exempted from being paid to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
“Though the Fund is exempted from being remitted into the Consolidated Revenue Fund, section 80(4) of the constitution requires that spending/expenditure from such Special Fund cannot be done without any appropriation by the National Assembly.”
Section 80 (4) of the constitution states as follows: “No moneys shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the federation, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly.”
Abdulkadir added that if urgent steps are not taken to investigate and audit the NESS Fund, Nigeria may risk the strong possibility of losing more money and the CBN and the Ministry of Finance may continue to use this Fund as a slush fund with the chances of diverting it to personal use without any public scrutiny.