Legal Nigeria

Reps to summon Okonjo-Iweala over N1.2bn river basin fund

Directive by the former finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the withdrawal of N1.17 billion from Sokoto Rima Basin Development Commission (SRBDC) account last year is “unacceptable,” members of the House of Representatives  have said.
To this end, the ad hoc committee mandated by the House to probe the withdrawal, after its meeting with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), queried how the minister’s directive could override that of the president.   It sought for more details from the former minister.
The committee, under Rep Evelyn Ojakovo (PDP, Delta) was informed during the meeting with the authority’s managing director, Mukhtari Ahmad Anka that presently N846 million was eventually withdrawn by CBN from their account.
Anka said due to the commission’s outstanding fund with the federal government, a letter was written to the president for the money, which he approved for release, “because all our previous budgets were never fully released since 2012.”
“We could no longer meet our project and contractual obligations any longer, while our contractors were bothering us. That was why we made the appeal,” he said.
But soon after the release, the minister of finance, through the AGF ordered CBN to withdraw all the money over what the AGF said “duplication of payment.”
Representative of the CBN and director, banking system, Suleman Barau said the apex carried out its duties based on approved and duly signed mandates from the AGF, who opened and owns all accounts of ministries, departments and agencies.
On his part, the AGF, represented by director of funds, Mr. M Dikwa, told the lawmakers that the reversal of the fund was carried out through a ministerial memoranda, unlike the approval z was effected through a presidential approval.
Dikwa said “Our records showed they have received what is due to them through the normal budgetary allocation. If it is allowed it would amount to duplication. And the balance is being pursued from SRBDC account.”
Chairman of the committee then faulted the AGF for failing to conduct needs assessment and due diligence before effecting payment of funds to MDAs.
Daily Trust