From Fred Itua, Abuja
THE Senate would do everything within its constitutional powers to unravel the alleged disappearance of a whopping N3.3 trillion from the coffers of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Senate spokesman, Senator Abdullahi Sabi who spoke to newsmen after yesterday’s plenary, said the standing committee on Public Accounts will soon invite the relevant agencies and individuals connected with the matter for questioning.
“We are committed to ensuring that a thorough job is done this time. We have demonstrated our capacity to match our words with our actions,” he said.
He was reacting to the comprehensive 2014 audit report of all ministers, departments and agencies (MDAs) submitted by the Auditor-General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Samuel Ukura to the Clerk of the National Assembly on Monday.
According to the report, the NNPC failed to remit N3.235 trillion to the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC), which was held in January 2014.
The report also said proceed from the sale of gas to Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) totaling $235,685,861 was not paid into the federation account, but was transferred to some undisclosed Escrow accounts.
“Relevant documents were not made available for verification,” AGF noted in the report, which also contained.
While speaking on the readiness of the Senate to ensure that the audit report was not swept under the carpet, Sabi vowed that the various Senate committees would be proactive in order to nip any fraud in the bud.
“The Eight Senate has chosen to be different from the past because we are in the season and period of change and we want to seriously key into that. Along that line, you could see the courage that we have to make some differences from what has obtained in the past. On this note, we have passed reports of some committees like the TSA, which is a classical example. Through that exercise, we were able to save the country N7 billion. There are similar works that have been done. We want to say that since we have chosen to be different, we urge Nigerians to wait and see what we will make out of the investigation.
“Without holding forth for the past Assemblies, I want to say that it is not as if they have not been doing anything about the past audit reports, but perhaps they have not taken their action up to the scale that would have made a huge impact.
“The Auditor-General is raising a query. It is not an indictment. So when he raises his queries, the essence of the Public Accounts Committee is to invite those parties involved in the query and through the instruments of their own work, investigate all the issues by seeking for clarification, and at the end of the day, where they have infractions or infringement on certain procedures, they mete out appropriate sanctions as stipulated by extant rules and regulations.
“When there is a process and someone has done one part, until we conclusively finish that process, it will be wrong to accuse anyone of being guilty. These are administrative procedures and the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has made it clear that we would take oversight functions far more serious than what it used to be in the past,” he said.