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House of Reps invite Emefiele, Ahmed over alleged illegal withdrawal of N21bn

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The House of Representatives has invited Godwin Emefiele, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN); Zainab Ahmed, the minister of finance, budget and national planning as well as Ahmed Idris, the accountant-general of the federation over the purported illegal withdrawal of $21 billion from the Nigeria Liquefied and Natural Gas Limited (NLNG)’s Dividends Account from 1999 to 2020.

The committee on public accounts of the lower legislative arm put out the summons following a remark by Mele Kyari, the group managing director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that the deductions from the NLNG Dividends Account were endorsed by the CBN, the Federal Ministry of Finance and the NNPC.

Umar Ajiya, the NNPC chief financial officer, who deputised for Mr Kyari, noted that the proceeds from the dividends account represented the Nigerian government’s share of revenues from the oil earnings distributed among federal and state governments.

“All withdrawals were based on approved mandates of the relevant authorities. As far as NNPC is concerned, investments in NLNG were done on behalf of the Federal Government.

“I was the treasurer of NLNG, so I was aware of the Federal Government’s investment in the project. The same matter came up at the FEC and was referred to a committee headed by the Governor of Kaduna State,” he said.

He further stated that the Nigerian government, whose interest NNPC represented in the NLNG joint venture, was the rightful owner of the investment, meaning that the investment accrued to the Nigerian government and not the federation account.

“There is no question of illegal withdrawal. Nobody can withdraw from the account, illegally; the CBN Governor can be invited to attest to that.”

He added that the investment proceeds were overseen, distributed or utilised at the behest of the Nigerian government.

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