Senate Queries NNPC, CBN on release of $289m to ex-NIA DG without presidential approval
Senate Committee on Public Account has expressed dismay at the manner in which $289 million was released to the former National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Director General, Ayo Oke, in cash without the approval of former President, Goodluck Jonathan.
The Committee, chaired by Senator Matthew Urhoghide, said it discovered that Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) released the $289 million from its security votes. It lamented that past reports had suggested that the NIA received the sum of $289,202,382 on the orders of former President Jonathan in February 2015.
The NNPC and National Intelligence Agency (NIA), which appeared before the Committee to explain why the money was released in cash to Oke against extant law, were subjected to serious interrogations. However, the NNPC claimed that the Presidency gave the approval to pay the money to the NIA on February 16, 2015.
The Chairman however said that there was no document before them that stipulated that the former President gave approval for the release of the money to Oke. He added that from the documents made available to him, it was NNPC that advised CBN to pay the money to Oke in cash, which is against extant law. Urhoghide said based on the audit query from the Auditor-General for the Federation, the NNPC granted a request from the NIA to pay $289m in cash to the Director – General of the NIA and that the NNPC complied by directing the CBN to pay the 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.
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.
The NNPC representative promised to forward the mandate from the President concerning the money to the committee for its perusal. The committee said it also learnt that it was Oke that told the NNPC to make the $289 million available in cash.