House Decries Kyari Refusal to Respond to Audit Query

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Udora Orizu in Abuja

The members of the House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts (PAC) have expressed grave concerns over the refusal of the Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Mele Kyari, to respond to the audit query issued to the corporation by the Auditor General of the Federation (AuGF) on the illegal withdrawals of $20.301 billion from the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) dividends account.

The Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, Hon. Wole Oke, and other members, who expressed the concern, observed that the need for the NNPC group managing director and other relevant agencies to appear before the committee is to clean up the matter immediately, noting that they hold all Nigerians the duty of care.

The details of the fund were contained in the document submitted to the House Committee on Public Accounts by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) on the need to ‘investigate the illegal withdrawals from the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) dividends account by the management of NNPC’.

According to the document, “From the total sum of $21.686 billion revenue accrued into the NLNG dividend account from 1999 to 2020, NNPC expended a total sum of $20,300,772,850 from the account leaving a credit balance of $1,384,875,073.39 as at June 30, 2020.”

The report stated that the sum of “$100 billion was generated by NLNG in sales revenue since inception. The company also has paid over $18 billion as dividends through NNPC and $6.1 billion as Company Income Tax (CIT) through the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

“In addition, the company also stated that over $15 billion has been expended by NLNG for the purchase of feedstock gas for its operations. Furthermore, between April 2002 and March 2007, the company paid the sum of $450,000 as licence fees and the sum of N28,696, 259.30 as NLNG licence renewal between 1999 and 2017 to the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR). With respect to the payment of dividend, the NLNG reported that it has fully paid all dividends due to the Federation Account to NNPC.

“Breakdown of the NLNG income tax payment from 1999 to 2020 showed that no revenue was paid between 1999 and 2013 (enjoyed pioneer status); the sum of $1,301,544,000 was paid in 2014; $1,491,992,000 paid in 2015; $625,331,000 paid in 2016; $304,669,000 paid in 2017; $704,182,000 paid in 2018; $907,754,000 paid in 2019, and $764,143,387 paid in 2020.

‘’It may be important to state that the commission in the discharge of its monitoring mandate visited the NLNG in August 2008 and March 2013, and has consistently requested NNPC to remit all dividends received from NLNG to the Federation Account. Information available to the commission indicates that the sum of $21,685,647,923.39 paid into the NLNG dividend account from inception to June 30, 2020.”

Details on how NNPC disbursed the $20.3 billion, showed that NLNG secretariat got $1,854,041.47; NLNG scheme 4 top up got $159.250 million; Brass LNG Scheme funding got $574,420,529.92; West African Gas Pipeline got $259,900,409; N-Gas (Takoradi, CEB Account, Gas Monitoring Station) got $9,433,400; Trans-Sahara Gas Pipeline got $1,278,810.50; Olokola LNG got 216,928,550.55, while security project got $1.520 billion.

The report also stated that the sum of $4,372,371,348.19 was transferred to the Federal Government of Nigeria; Product Importation Loan to NNPC worth $5 billion; $3,335,335,760 spent on Paris Club Refund; Sovereign Wealth Fund got $1.050 billion; $1.200 billion for 2016 JV Cash Call Balance and $2.6 billion spent on National Fuel Support Fund.

In its recommendation to the Committee, RMAFC Chairman, Elias Mbam, said: “The commission does not support any diversion of revenue that should accrue to the Federation Account for whatever reason, as the practice is illegal and conflict with section 162(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

‘’That the NNPC or any other agency does not have the powers under the law to withdraw money from the NLNG dividend account for any other purpose outside remitting it into the Federation Account.’’