30 May 2014, Abuja – The Federal Government and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) illegally spent about $4.5 billion on kerosene subsidy from the Federation Account without appropriation, Senator Ahmed Makarfi alleged yesterday.
Makarfi, chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, said the ongoing forensic audit of the NNPC would likely indict some key officials.
Makarfi, whose committee probed the suspended Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Lamido Sanusi’s allegation on the $49.8billion ‘missing’ oil money, told reporters in Kaduna that the panel’s recommendations are subject to the forensic audit’s outcome.
“The forensic audit may indict many individuals,” he said, adding: “We were asked to find out the whereabouts of some money. For $47 billion out of the $67 billion, there was no dispute at all right from the time we started our sitting that the money was in the Federation Account. Where there was dispute was between the figure of $10.8 billion and $20 billion.
“Even that dispute did not state that the money was really missing, but what has been done with that money. It was not stated at that time that the money was missing, but that it was not remitted to the Federation Account. If it was not remitted to the Federation Account, it could be hanging in one account or the other.
“We took the larger figure of $20billion so that we could investigate what happened to that money. Out of that money, $5.5 billion was spent on petrol and what we needed to do was to find out if the money was appropriated. We checked the budget of the relevant ministries and discovered that the National Assembly appropriated the money.
“So, if the National Assembly appropriated money and it was expended, you cannot talk about money missing. Another $4.5 billion was expended on subsidy on kerosene. But unlike that of petrol, the money was not appropriated by the National Assembly, but there was evidence and certification that the money was spent.
“Again, there is a difference between missing money and money spent without appropriation. You know what it was used for, but the fact is, was it authorised by law? It was not authorised constitutionally because all money to be spent are supposed to be appropriated by the National Assembly. That takes care of $10 billion out of the $20 billion.
“One part of the money was budgeted for and spent, while another part was not budgeted for, but spent. We also discovered that about $8 billion does not entirely belong to the Federation Account. Our job was to determine how much of that money belongs to the Federation Account”.
Makarfi said what the government should have done after the money was spent was to send a supplementary budget to the National Assembly for approval, stressing that this was not done.
Makarfi, who was Kaduna State Governor from 1999 to 2007, said even though former President Umaru Yar’Adua outlawed kerosene subsidy, his administration did not take any step to implement the directive. The fact that money was spent on subsidy without appropriation does not mean that the money is missing, he said.
Makarfi said his committee did not indict Minister of Petroleum Resources Dezeani Allison Madueke because it did not find anywhere that she approved for any expenses to be made.
He said: “When you talk of indicting, if you are to indict at this point, it is institutions you can indict. It is when the forensic audit comes out that you can indict individuals. That is why some of the recommendations say subject to the forensic audit and we said that the National Assembly should take further legislative action upon the receipt of the forensic audit if we find any reason to do so.
“We have not foreclosed anything in our report. We made conditional recommendation and we are waiting for that forensic audit from the external forensic auditors. That is where personal indictment can come. For one reason or the other, some people believe the Minister and some other people should be indicted.
“But from what we have seen, we have not seen anywhere the minister made any approval. So, if you don’t see any particular thing she approved, how do you come to indict her? But the forensic audit also covers payment on subsidy and in that case, the people that could be indicted are many. “
– The Nation