Posted by News Express | 21 March 2020 | 570 times
The Senate has uncovered how former director-general of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Amb Ayo Oke, collected about $289 million in cash without approval from former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The Senate committee on public account chaired by Senator Matthew Urhoghide made the discovery following an investigation.
The committee said it discovered that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had released the $289 million to Oke from the Niger Delta Security Votes which he collected from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) without a presidential approval.
On Thursday, NNPC and NIA had appeared before the committee to explain why the money which was later traced to an Ikoyi apartment was released in cash to the former NIA DG against the extant laws.
Uroghidrle had queried NNPC for giving order to CBN on February 24, 2015 to release such amount of money to the NIA without presidential approval.
But NNPC claimed that the presidency gave the approval to pay $289million to NIA on February 16, 2015.
The chairman, however, said that there was no document before the committee that stipulated that the former president gave approval for the release of such money to the NIA boss.
He said he further discovered from the documents made available to him that it was NNPC that advised CBN to pay the money to former NIA DG in cash, which is against extant law.
Urhoghide said based on the audit query from the Auditor – General of the Federation, the NNPC granted a request from the NIA to pay $289m in cash to the director – general of the NIA, which the NNPC complied to by directing the CBN to pay the cash to the NIA.
The director of Finance, NNPC, Mr Okonkwo who confirmed Urhoghide’s assertion said, “Yes, we complied with the request. It is not true that we said the money should be paid to the Director – General but to the NIA as an institution.
“I’m not defending NIA for requesting for the money to be paid in cash but considering the circumstances, which is for security purposes.
“NNPC obliged because we are not in charge of security. If they request for payment in cash and they said it is for security, NNPC cannot say no, and that it must be transferred through electronic means to a particular account. If anything happens afterwards, NNPC will
not be held responsible. It is the man who insisted that the money be paid in cash that would answer. “
Urhoghide asked if the NNPC had a mandate from the presidency directing it to pay money in cash to the NIA.
He wondered why the NIA should insist on cash payment when the procurement of the security equipment would be purchased outside the country but Okonkwo said the NNPC was merely carrying out a directive to it to pay.
Urhoghide agreed with the submission of the Auditor- General for the Federation in his audit query that there was no way the president would have directed the NNPC to pay $289m in cash to the NIA.
He said, “We want you to convince this Committee why you think that the transaction must be done by cash payment. Tell us if the President expressly stated that the money should be paid to the NIA in cash. There is no way government business involving such huge sums would be transacted in cash”.
The NNPC representative promised to forward the mandate from the president concerning the money to the committee for its perusal.
The Urhoghide-led committee also learnt from the documents available before them that it was Ambassador Oke that told the NNPC to make the $289 million available in cash.
The Document in possession of the committee also revealed that the former NIA DG asked the NNPC to make the money available in cash. (Leadership)
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