The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, on Wednesday in Abuja denied saying that $49.8 billon was missing from the Federation Account, stating that he only said that there may be unremitted amount of monies into the federation account.
Sanusi said this when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Finance, mandated by the Senate to investigate the allegations raised by the CBN governor..
The Senate had called for the investigation following a Point of Order on Matter of Urgent National Importance raised by Sen. Olubunmi Adetunmbi (APC-Ekiti), who relied on the Senate Order 42.
Adetunmbi drew the Senate’s attention to newspaper reports alleging that the money was proceeds from the sale of crude by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
He said the laws stipulated that proceeds from the sale of crude should be lodged in the CBN, and requested that the Senate should institute a probe into the alleged missing funds.
Sanusi alleged in a letter to President Goodluck Jonathan on Sept.25 that the NNPC had failed to remit $49.8 billion between 2012 and 2013.
In the letter, the CBN complained to the president about the continuing refusal of the NNPC to honour its legal obligations, including failure to remit $49.8 billion to the Federation Account.
The NNPC, however, described the CBN letter as a product of ignorance and mischief.
When the CBN governor appeared before the Senate Finance Committee, he confirmed that he indeed, wrote the letter to the president, but added that “in truth, there is no missing money. Chairman, we did not see the letter as a conclusion of our investigation, but an invitation to investigate.
“So, the conclusion that $49.8 billion was missing was wrong, even though, we had the allegation that it was un-remitted,’’ Sanusi said.
He expressed regrets that the letter found its way into the press, adding that it was born out of concern over low rate of accruals.
“I found it very unfortunate, it was leaked to the press and the answer is ‘Yes’, the CBN governor did send that letter with those contents. By way of those contents, the Central Bank and Finance Ministry and the government were very much concerned over the years at the very low rate of accretion to the reserves.
“This is in spite of very high level of oil prices and in particular, depletion of excess crude account, in spite of what seems to be very high level of oil sales.’’
The CBN governor, however, said that a lot had happened since the letter became public and that all stakeholders involved were working together to rectify the situation.
“We (the Minister of Finance, Minister of Petroleum Resources, Central Bank, FIRS, DPR) have set up technical team which has started a process of reconciliation and there has been a lot of progress made.
The major progress has been provision of Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) by MPC officials to show that even though they did ship that amount in question which is a little more than 67 billion dollars.
“About 24 billion dollars was actually not their crude, but crude shipped on behalf of third parties like oil companies, tax in crude and also for third party financing and that already addressed half of the amount.
He said the second half was the issues around domestic crude lifting of 28 billion dollars from which the stakeholders felt there was a short fall.
According to him, the general consensus among them (the stakeholders) even though, the amount has been disputed, for us in CBN, there is a shortfall of $12 billion.
He appealed to the committee to give the stakeholders more time to resolve the issues.
“We need a little more time since the objective of this committee and for all of us is actually to get to the bottom of it. And to find out exactly what is the amount unremmitted and what is to be done and recommend actions.’’
The Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said what needed to be reconciled was $10.8 billion and not $12 billion as the CBN governor had said.
The Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Ahmed Makarfi (PDP-Kaduna), urged both the CBN governor and the minister to reconcile the differences as soon as possible and report back to the committee.
“Right now, you can see that between you, you still have some differences. First of all, from my understanding, the CBN governor has said that he didn’t say money was missing, but there may be unremited revenue.
“Whether that revenue is kept somewhere is to be established,’’ Makarfi said, and told all the parties to submit their individual positions to the committee after the reconciliation.
Earlier, Senate President David Mark, who declared the public hearing open, said the allegations were serious, and urged the committee to be thorough in their investigation.
“At this point, all that we have is an allegation, but it is a serious allegation. The essence of this public heading is to establish the fact.
“The Senate has no position on it except those published in the newspaper. The committee’s body language must be seen to be neutral,’’ Mark said.