Apparently piqued by the inability of the ministry of finance to defend the illegal withdrawal of N7.5b from the Central bank account, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Accounts (SPAC) Matthew Urhoghide has threatened thorough investigation.
He also pointed out that the fraud would be used to test the will of the President on anti-corruption fight.
This was as the permanent Secretary of the ministry of finance, Aliyu Ahmed who was represented by a director in the ministry, Teslim Akintoye, could not account for how the withdrawals were made.
Members of the Senate Committee on Public Accounts were bewildered when the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Finance, Aliyu Ahmed said the Ministry is not in possession of the documents related to the Ministry on N7.5b secret withdrawal.
The Senate had last week asked the Ministry of Finance, Office of Accountant General of the Federation and Office of National Security Adviser to appear to give explanation on alleged “secret withdrawal of N7.5 billion from the 2 percent National Automotive Council Design and Development Council (NADDC) Levy Account domiciled with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The permanent secretary said the office of the Accountant General would have to liaise with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to get the record of officers who got the loan.
Urhoghide had indicated that the committee demanded the attention of the Ministry of Finance, Accountant General of the Federation and that of the NADDC to appear before the committee to explain their side of the illegal withdrawal and spending of the N7.5bn of the NADDC account.
He maintained that the money was not an amount that could be swept under the carpet especially when the transaction had reached its maturation.
He pointed out that the defunct NAFCON was sold with liabilities and the ministry of finance which handled it worked with Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) to sell NAFCON why they are not paid back.
He told the permanent Secretary that the ministry may have to adopt the submission of the office of Auditor General since his office has no evidence of the transactions.
Senator Urhoghide further stated that from the documents available to the committee all transactions emanated from the Ministry of Finance wandering why they would come to the parliament to say they dont not have anything to say.’
Supporting the position of the chairman, the Vice Chairman of the Committee, Senator Hassan Hadejia asked rhetorically, “Are you telling us that no document in the Ministry to show for it, everything emanated from your Ministry.”
The Chairman also added, ” You don’t appear before Senate when you don’t have anything to say .”
The representative of Office of Accountant General of Federation, Alexandra Adeyemi however confirmed that the money in question was released and it is going to be recovered through budgetary process .
But, the Office of Accountant general of the Federation failed to present the list of beneficiaries of the fund in question which was part of the amount earmarked for car loans to Security Officers.
The Committee was able to establish that the fund was withdrawn without involvement of National Automotive Council Design and Development Council (NADDC), but after some years, the agency was notified .
After a heated debate on the matter, the Committee resolved to dig deeper into the secret withdrawal of N7.5 billion because there is no evidence that the money was paid back into Federation Account.
According to the chairman, “We are going to look the deeper into the matter, we have to give ample time into this matter, we must do proper status on it, to let Nigerians know what is going on., We want to see what the President is going to do about this colossal fraud.
The Committee further resolved that a full blown public hearing may be done on the issue.
He recalled that ‘The illegal withdrawal was to fund car loans through a blatant withdrawal and the committee knows that all documents are in the office of the accountant general.
Senator, Ibrahim Danbaba, representing Sokoto South said the ministry of finance does not take the Senate panel serious “I think these institutions are just playing with us. In this letter that was addressed to your ministry, we asked the accountant general to respond through your ministry.
“Unless you are adopting the response of the accountant General, we understand the loans have not been paid and you are saying nothing” Danbaba said.
The query had stated that, “A total sum of N3,836,000,000.00 (Three billion, eight hundred and thirty-six million naira) was irregularly withdrawn from the 2% National Automotive Council Levy Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria, Abuja in 2 installments of N2,800,000,000 (in 2005) and N1,036,000,000.00 (in 2006) by the Accountant-General of the Federation and the Federal Ministry of Finance as car loan to be granted for the Security Personnel Car Purchase Scheme Loan,” was raised last week.