31st March, 2021
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has thrown its weight behind the Nigerian Senate in its bid to unravel the mystery surrounding the alleged missing $9.5m interest which accrued to the Federation Account from Petroleum Profit Tax Investment.
In a release issued by CACOL, the Chairman, Mr Debo Adeniran stated, “We received the news that the Senate Public Accounts Committee (SPAC) has given the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele, up till Thursday, to appear before it over the alleged disappearance of $9.5m interest which accrued to the Federation Account from Petroleum Profit Tax Investment.
”The Senate Public Accounts Committee, which is currently scrutinizing the reports of the Auditor-General of the Federation (AuGF) alleged during its sitting on Monday that the principal sums deposited, the tenor and rate of interest, were shrouded in secrecy”.
“It should be noted that The Petroleum Profit Tax is applicable to upstream operations in the oil industry. Particularly, it is related to rents, royalties, margins and profit-sharing elements associated with oil mining, prospecting and exploration leases.
”Also, the Media reported that the committee had penultimate week summoned the officials of the apex bank over the alleged disappearance of the fund but no management staff of the apex bank honoured the lawmakers’ invitation”.
The summon was sequel to the consideration of the Auditor-General of the Federation report which probed the spendings of federal government’s agencies. The Auditor-General was quoted as saying in the report, “During the examination of transfers to Foreign Excess PPT/Royalty and Foreign Excess Crude Accounts, it was observed that during the year 2016, amount totalling $6m and $3.5m were credited to the Foreign PPT/Royalty and Foreign Excess Crude Account as interest on funds’ investments.
”The authority for placing the funds which yielded the above interests totalling $9.5m in a deposit account, the principal sums deposited, the tenor and the rate of interest were not made available for audit verification. This observation had also been a subject of my reports since 2017 without any positive response from the Central Bank of Nigeria. Records made available for audit further revealed that the balance in the foreign PPT/Royalty and Foreign Excess Crude accounts as of 28th December 2016 were $0.00 and $251,826 respectively.” This, it added, suggested that the foreign PPT/Royalty was depleted before the year-end.
“It is disheartening and demoralizing how most of the MDAs flagrantly disregard the directives of the National Assembly and the country’s Auditor-General (AuGF) on submission of audited accounts for necessary vetting and scrutiny because there is a lacuna in our Constitution that has made it expedient for them to tactically evade such order with no fear of backlash or any sanction whatsoever for such impunity.
”This trend is not peculiar to the MDAs only, as both the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) and other existing financial laws are either inadequate or contradictory in addressing modern challenges posed by corruption in the country. Since the advent of this democratic dispensation, cases like this abounds.
”The reason for this inconsistency is not far-fetched as deliberate loopholes exist in our statutes and other regulatory enactments that allows for not only impunities but also make corruption attractive and tempting since most of our approach against corruption is aimed at apprehending after the crime(s) rather than aiming at prevention as it is being done in saner and more advanced climes.
“We want to commend the Senate Public Accounts Committee for investigating the whereabouts of this huge sum of money. Over the years, we have been at the forefront of championing calls for the legislature to take full charge of their oversight functions especially in situations where public funds were misappropriated.
”With the advancement in technology today, most of the looting or financial manipulations would be effectively prevented and detected ab initio if we focused more on prevention and greater accountability and independence of organs saddled with oversight and embrace e-governance as a matter of urgency.
”This is no doubt, in line with our previous calls for the audit law and other useful legislation that are already begging for speedy consideration and passage in the National Assembly for ages to be accorded due attention so that the fight against official corruption could become a thing of the past in the country”.