…It’s not true, says spokesman
From Uche Usim, Abuja
Barely 48 hours after the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu alleged several under-hand dealings of the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr Maikanti Baru, the national oil company is in the news again over alleged unremitted $793.2 million belonging to the Federal Government.
According to reports, the current NNPC management had stashed the money in different commercial banks instead of remitting same to the Treasury Single Account (TSA) as required by law.
According to sources, proceeds from crude oil sale and other operations, and the interest accruing to the appropriate accounts have been kept away from the government and that the development may force the authorities to invite operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to look into the operations of the Corporation.
The money is said to be lodged in Sterling Bank, Keystone Bank, Diamond Bank, First Bank and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
But reacting to the allegation, the spokesman of NNPC, Ndu Ughamadu, in a statement said: “We have no hidden accounts, adding that the amount in question was actually $231.8 million and not $793.2 million as widely reported.
He added that the media report alleging that the Corporation colluded with some banks to prevent the remittance of $793.2 million into TSA was not only misplaced but equally misleading.
Providing a breakdown on the lodgments, the NNPC said the amount included: $174.4 million domiciled at Diamond Bank, another $40.7 million in Skye Bank and $16.7 million placed in Keystone Bank which brings the total to $231.8 million.
The statement explained that in line with the directive of the Presidency, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was supervising the remittance of these funds to its TSA Account and it has made great strides in this regard.
He said the Corporation had earlier taken steps to inform the Presidency, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, (AGF) and the Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN) on the existence of the said accounts prior to the creation of the Federal Government Asset Recovery Account. The NNPC explained that it would be totally out of place to move the funds to the government’s Asset Recovery Account as reported noting that it is unreasonable and sheer waste of funds to pay any agent 5 percent, whistle blowing fee for the phantom recovery of genuine NNPC funds which had been disclosed to the Presidency, CBN and other relevant stakeholders.
Meanwhile, the Corporation is also being accused of warehousing $26,560,076.76 in Sterling Bank with account number 0023515951, while the sum of $16.6 million is said to be KeyStone Bank with account number 1006160930.
There is another $277.8 million reportedly in another account with Diamond Bank number 0033789960 while $19 million sits in two accounts with First Bank – $12 million is in a current account numbered 2006307767 and $6.9 million is in another First Bank Escrow account with number 2016965894.
In addition to this total sum of $340,102,485.10, another sum of $289 million is placed with two cheques with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
According to sources, “requests from relevant offices to the NNPC to remit the total sum of the said $629,093,716.77 to the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company TSA account as is the practice have been rebuffed for reasons yet undisclosed”.
Treasury Single Account (TSA) is a financial policy in use in many countries all over the world to consolidate all inflows from all agencies of government into a single account.
TSA allows government banking to be unified, to enable the relevant stakeholders, such as the Ministry of Finance and Accountant General of the Federation have full oversight of all cash flows across various bank accounts.
TSA also helps check cases of multiple, sometimes, untraceable accounts operated by government MDAs for collection and spending of government revenues.
It helps keep a good record of revenue receipts and expenditures and block leakages, as no agency of government is allowed to keep any operational bank account.
TSA helps check cases of idle cash lying over extended periods in bank accounts held by agencies of government, giving room for unscrupulous officials to make private wealth from interests on such deposits or by trading with the money.
Also, the scheme makes it impossible for banks that are fond of using public sector funds to make free profits to continue to do so.
The introduction of the Treasury Single Account policy therefore has been useful in reducing the proliferation of bank accounts operated by ministries, departments and agencies, thereby ensuring financial accountability as well as transparency.