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Audit Query: NNPC GMD, 17 subsidiaries again fail to appear Before Reps C’tte

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***panel Accuses MTN of Tax Evasion

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company, (NNPC) limited and its 17 subsidiaries for the umpteenth time failed to appear before the Public Account Committee of the House Representatives to answer to multiple audit queries raised against them by the office of the Auditor General of the Federation

The committee is investigating NNPC limited, the Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN) alongside telecommunication firm, MTN based on the annual audit report of the Auditor General of the Federation, (AGoF) between 2014-2019 financial year and non rendition of audited account by NNPC subsidiaries covering the same period

The NNPC Management had pleaded with the Committee two weeks ago to issue fresh summons on the 17 subsidiaries through the Group Managing Director, Mele Kyari.
This followed the observation of the Committee that the GMD might have been shielding them from honouring several summons issued to them with total assurance that the GMD would produce them before the Committee

However, At the resumed hearing of the Committee sitting on Wednesday, the NNPC in a letter addressed to the Chairman of the Committee, Hon Busayo Oluwole Oke (Osun- PDP) the Group Managing Director, Mallam Mele Kyari stated that he was engaged in a function on theft of crude oil in the Niger Delta, hence his unavailability

The Committee therefore, ceded to his request for an extension of time and fixed 29th April when Kyari would appear in person with the relevant documents for the investigation

The committee was however, frowned at MTN’s unwillingness to cooperate by tendering requested documents that would ease the findings of the lawmakers.
The Chairman of the committee described the attitude of the telecom firm as ‘disrespectful to the parliament” especially that the company replied parliament’s invitation letter to the MD through an Executive Director, MD

Besides, the lawmakers lamented the abuse of fiscal regulations by individuals and companies doing business in the country as most of them were found to be evading taxes

The General Manager, (GM) financial operations of MTN Yemisi Adeleye who appeared before the lawmakers failed to tender a certificate of assets status of the company, issued her organization by the ministry of trade and investment

The certificate was expected to contain the assets of the company which would determine how much tax was expected of them.

Since incorporation in 2001, the GM said that MTN had invested more than N3.4 trillion into the Nigerian economy and had paid more than N2.5 trillion in taxes, levies and other regulatory fees as at December 2021 including N669 billion in 2021 alone

The Committee directed the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) to furnish it with all MTN import duty documents as well as other relevant tax documents to ascertain if waivers were given legally or wrongly to the telecom firm

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Legislature

Senate panel quizzes Bakari as NFIU Boss

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The Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes has on Monday quizzed Hafsat Bakari as the Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, (NFIU).

President Bola Tinubu last week appointed Bakari as the head of the Financial Intelligence Unit, pending her confirmation by the Senate.

By the appointment Bakari is to replace Modibbo Tukur who was relieved of his job by President Tinubu in June 2023.
Bakari is a lawyer and financial intelligence expert with years of experience in anti-money laundering, counter-terrorism financing, and counter-proliferation financing said she has “enough experience to discharge he duties”
Before her appointment as the Chief Executive Officer of the NFIU, she served as Deputy Director at the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, and was at different times the Head of the General Services Unit; Head of the Strategy and Reorientation Unit, and Head of the Board Secretariat of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
In a chat with newsmen after the screening, the Chairman Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, Senator Emmanuel Menga Udende expresses that Ms. Bakare will bring her wealth of experience and expertise to bare in the discharge of her mandate in this critical role, especially in view of the President Bola Tinubu’s war against illicit financial flows and other sharp practices currently prevalent in segments of the nation’s foreign exchange markets”
The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) a creation of the National Assembly is the Nigerian federal agency responsible for collecting and analyzing disclosures from reporting organizations, in order to produce financial intelligence to other agencies combating money laundering, terrorism, and other financial crimes.
The NFIU was established in 2004 as an autonomous unit within the central coordinating body for the country’s Anti-Money Laundering, Counter-Terrorist Financing, and Counter-Proliferation Financing (AML/CFT/CPF) framework of Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN).
It also operates as part of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

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Imo North senator advocates for regional Governmment, police

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**Wants each regional Government to oversee its development commission

The senator representing Imo North Senatorial District Ndubueze Patrick Chiwuba has advocated for Regional Government and Regional Police Force as against the cloud for State Police.

Speaking on the heels of the passage of the bill for the establishment of the South East Development Commission senator Chiwuba described the politics of Regional Development commissions that has become a cash cow for some Nigerians as a welcome development as it will soon lead him to sponsor a bill for Regional Government

According him when each region is given its own Developmwnt Commission, it is another form of restructuring

“I’ll be happy, I’m supporting that 100%. After that I can bring up my bill.

“You know when people talk of restructuring, people see it in a different way. You understand? God can bless Nigeria from different angles. 

“Let us have regional governments to superintend over all these commissions so that nobody will now go and appropriate it to himself. 

“So what am I looking for? The restructuring has gotten it. So it is a very wonderful work. For me, when I saw the other regional commissions, I started preparing my bill for regional government.

“So what I’m trying to say is, it is a good omen. Every region should have it. And you are deriving money from the federal. Now, if you derive from the federal, those places where people can augment their own commission, they will go and augment and move ahead. “Others may copy them. And as such, what do we do there will be regional competition so that States do not need to go cap in hand to the Federal Government to share allocation

“So, my next bill, after we have gotten the commissions, will be a bill for us to adopt regional government. And the regional government will superintend over the commissions.
“If any, somebody can be held responsible by the people of the area. But when the chairman of the board is appointed from the federal level, he is not accountable to the area, the region, because he is not appointed by the people. The people don’t have authority to remove them or to replace them.
“So they behave like emperors because it’s only the federal that can call them to order. You understand? And if the federal wants to call them to order, their relations will go to plead on their behalf

“But when the regional government superintend over such and they are elected, you know what it means? So once you are doing bad either they recall you, or they remove you, or they make sure that your tenure is not renewed. 
Also speaking on the issue of the state police he said he is not an apostle of  state police but Regional.
He said the regional police will not be accountable to any particular governor. No person will use the regional police to fight his enemy, political enemy. 

But state police, people can use it to fight their enemy, but regional, nobody can, because the governors of the region will come together to provide funding
When it comes to regional police, it will derive its power from the region there, no single person can use them.

For now, the appointments, both the board and others are coming from the federal. And when they are appointed, they will recognize every state. That’s one. Two, the chairman and the executive members will be rotated from time to time.
On whether President Tinubu will assent to the South East Development Commission bill he said, “&I ’m not seeing any hindrance. Rather, it’s going to improve our politics in a better sense. What we need is development. What we need is freedom to operate. And that’s what the South is asking for – freedom to operate. 
“Once we have freedom to operate, the sky is the beginning, it’s not our limit. And every other part of the nation will benefit.
“If you go down the history, you know when we had regional governments? The South East was rated as the fastest growing economy in the world. Go and Google. During the regional government headed by Michael Okpara, the South East was rated as the fastest growing economy in the whole world. Now, since after the civil war, the South East had been abandoned. That’s why you see people crying of marginalization.

“First of all, we thank God for a day like this, that we can be happy, joyful, and glorify Him for the passage of this bill. And we thank the National Assembly for passing the bill as well.

“We are thanking Mr. President in advance for assenting to this Bill, because I know he will assent to the Bill. So it’s a good thing, it’s a good omen, not just for the South East, but for the nation Nigeria.

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Legislature

Beam searchlights on FG over $3.4b COVID 19 loan, subsidy savings, CSOs Charges NASS

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The National Assembly has been charged to probe the $3.4billion loan collected by the Federal Government from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in April 2020 without proof of expenditure on anything, Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has charged

They also faulted unending requests for loans by the Federal Government and expeditious approvals given by the National Assembly with little or nothing to point at, as what the loans were used for.

They added that, savings made by the government from fuel subsidy removal from May last year till date, have not been accounted for by the government as Nigerians are watching and suffering .

The Nine CSOs led by the Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, at a media briefing, alleged that the incessant loan collections by the FG, made the debt profile of the country to hit N87.9tr mark which is equivalent to $114.3b

“The escalating debt burden has profound implications for the well – being of Nigerian citizens , and failure to act quickly could result in an additional 23million Nigerians living in poverty and 80milliion working – age citizens without a full time job by 2030.

“These concerning trends underscore the need for the National Assembly to urgently do the needful by among others, investigate the movement and spending of loans received by the Federal Government in the past and present administrations , including but not limited to the $3.4billion loan obtained from IMF as reported in the 2020 annual audited report published by the Auditor – General of the Federation .

“Stopping borrowing for recurrent expenditure ( personnel and overheads ) and dilatory capital expenditure that adds no value to economic growth, wealth creation and development.
‘Demanding accountability for petrol subsidy savings and sincerity of purpose in fulfilling the government ‘s ‘ promises of renewed hope ‘ to the millions of Nigerians who no longer have belts to tighten”.

Other CSOs represented at the media briefing by their Executive Directors, were Centre for Democracy and Development,
International Budget Partnership, Paradigm Leadership Support Initiative,
Oxfam, Social Action, Christian Aid, Action Aid

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