25 April 2018, Sweetcrude, Abuja – Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, has asked the National Assembly to probe the unauthorised withdrawal of $496 million by President Muhammadu Buhari from the Excess Crude Account (ECA).
Reacting to the controversy surrounding the withdrawal of $496 million to pay for Tucano aircrafts in the United States, Falana said the days of anticipatory approvals should be over in the country.
According to him, “Since 1999, anticipated approvals have been the order of the day.
“Presidents (Olusegun) Obasanjo, (Umaru) Yar’Adua and (Goodluck) Jonathan were alleged to have spent N1.5 trillion without parliamentary approval. We thought that that era had gone for good.
“The National Assembly should investigate the withdrawal with a view to stopping the executive”.
A letter dated April 13 and transmitted to the National Assembly, shows that Buhari had already given anticipatory approval for the withdrawal of $496,374,470 (N151,394,421,355) from the ECA, for the purchase of the aircraft and was only seeking the inclusion of same in the 2018 Appropriation Bill that the National Assembly is currently finalising.
Meanwhile, in a letter on Monday to the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, President Buhari said: “In the expectation that the National Assembly would have no objection to the purchase of this highly specialised aircraft, which is critical to national security, I granted anticipatory approval for the release of US$496,374,470.00. This was paid directly to the treasury of the United States Government.
“I am therefore writing, seeking approval of this House for the sum of US$496,374,470.00 (equivalent to N151,394,421,335.00) to be included in the 2018 Appropriation Bill, which the National Assembly is currently finalising.
“The balance of the requirements for critical operational equipment is still being collated from the different security services and will be presented in the form of a Supplementary Appropriation Bill, in due course.”