By Adedayo Akinwale and Udora Orizu
The House of Representatives has decided to petition President Muhammad Buhari following the refusal of some agencies of government to appear before its Committee on Public Account to answer questions over alleged financial irregularities traced or clarify some records provided by other agencies.
The committee expressed displeasure over the refusal of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Managing Director of the Nigeria Port Authority, and the Bureau of Public Enterprises to appear before it over sales of federal government landed property across the country.
The Chairman of the committee, Hon. Wole Oke, told the clerk of the committee to forward a petition to the president through the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and the Chief of Staff to the President informing him of the refusal of the heads of the agency to honour the invitation of the parliament.
The agencies, alongside the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), and the Petroleum Equalisation Fund failed to appear before the committee over the sales of some government property.
He said the president should compel the agencies to honour the invitation of the House within seven days.
However, at its hearing on Wednesday, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) and the Nigeria Electricity Liabilities Management Company denied selling any government property or being in possession of any proceed from the sale.
The Managing Director of TCN, Mr S.A. Abdulazeez, told the committee that TCN was not involved in the sale of federal government landed property.
He said: ”When the Power Holding Company was privatised, all assets and liabilities were handed over to the Nigerian Electricity Liability Management Company (NELMCO and so, we have no presentation to make.”
Responding to questions, the Director General of NELMCO, Adebayo Fagbemi, said not all PHCN assets were transferred to the agency, adding that some of the property handed over to him were already sold before they were handed over to them.
He said that the gazette authorising the transfer also transfered some of the assets to other agencies including the Nigeria Electricity Management Service Agency and National Power Training Institute of Nigeria and the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Company (NBET).
He disclosed that the schedules were transferred to the agency by the gazette, adding that some of the property listed in the schedules were already sold by the Presidential Implementation Committee, the Federal Capital Territory Authority and FIRS before they were handed over to the agency merely on paper.
He said those assets already sold should have been expunged from the list of assets handed over to them, adding that the agencies that took charge and sold the property should be in a better position to explain where the money realised from the sale was kept.
He also said NELMCO only recently got approval from the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to begin the sale of about 52 government property, adding that the process of selling those property is currently being carried out.
Asked whether the property were sold before being handed over to them, he said: “The transfers were done officially in 2013 by the BPE and by 2013, some of the property were already sold and the proceeds were never transferred to us.”
The Secretary to the Presidential Implementation Committee on the Sales of federal government landed property, Kola Adeyemi, however confirmed that the property were sold and the proceeds deposited in a special account at the CBN created for that purpose.
He said the committee never had access to the proceeds as the transaction was carried out in line with presidential directives.