By Adedayo Akinwale
The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has said that the withdrawal of over $21 billion from the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) dividends account is legal.
The Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mr. Mele Kyari, stated this on Thursday when he appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts.
Kyari, who was represented at the hearing by Mr. Umar Ajiya, explained that proceeds from the Dividends Account were the federal government’s share of revenues from oil shared among the federal and state governments.
He stated: “Though the NNPC sits on the board (of NLNG) on behalf of the federal government, proceeds from the investment, are managed and disbursed or dispensed or utilised, based on the instruction of the the federal government. When I say federal government, I do not mean, NNPC; ordinarily, it’s the Federal Ministry of Finance that directs the utilization. We (NNPC) are merely the agents of the federal government.
“All withdrawals (from NLNG dividends fund) were based on approved mandates of the relevant authorities. As far as NNPC is concerned, investments in NLNG, were done on behalf of the federal government. I was the treasurer of NLNG, so I was aware of the federal government’s investment in the project.
“The same matter came at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and was referred to a committee, headed by the Governor of Kaduna State, but the fact is that the federal government, through the NNPC, is the true owner of the investment (the sum withdrawn). It is accrued to the federal government, not the Federation Account.
“There is no question of illegal withdrawal. Nobody can withdraw from the account, illegally; the CBN Governor, can be invited to attest to that.” Kyari added.
In respect to queries from the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation on alleged unauthorized deduction of over N1.2 trillion in 2014 from proceeds from oil, he insisted that “the NNPC couldn’t have remitted all its earnings” at the time to the federation account.
The House Committee headed by Hon. Wole Oke, however, resolved to summon the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmad; Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele; and the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, to clarify claims by Ajiya on the utilization of the NLNG fund.