Non-rendition of accounts: Reps give 17 subsidiaries of NNPC 7-day ultimatum or risk arrest

The House of Representatives Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has given the management of the 17 subsidiaries of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) a 7-day ultimatum within which to appear before it over the non-rendition of the financial accounts of the affected agencies over the years to the office of the Accountant General of the Federation.

The Chairman of the Committee, Hon Busayo Oluwole Oke, (PDP-OSUN) who gave the order on Friday following the absence of the Managements of the Agencies at the resumed investigative hearing on the queries raised against the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government on non-rendition of their financial accounts, declared that failure to appear before the Committee would lead to the issuance of bench warrant of arrest against them.

Oke stated that “they are to appear before the Committee on the investigative hearing on the several audit queries raised against them by the Auditor General of the Federation over the years.”

The lawmaker raised the alarm that the Committee had just discovered that while all MDAs were operating on the Treasury Single Account (TSA), the NNPC has been using its subsidiaries to operate commercial banks without the knowledge of the Accountant General of the Federation, the practice which he described as illegal and unlawful.

The Committee and the NNPC had for some time appeared to have a rift over the failure of the latter to cause the appearance to answer questions over how their funds are being managed.

The Committee also accused the NNPC of shielding its subsidiaries by not allowing them to appear before the committee to answer queries on their financial operations.

The Chief Financial Officer of the NNPC, Umar Isa Ajiya, a couple of weeks ago, had appeared before the committee and submitted that the Corporation was going to speak on behalf of the subsidiaries, a position that was rejected by the Committee, insisting that the subsidiaries were legal entities and must speak on their own.

Last week, the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mele Kyari, eventually turned up in person to answer the audit queries but declared that the Corporation was authorized by law to make deductions at source to fund its operations.

He apologized saying his delay to appear before the Committee was due to other exigencies.

But on Friday, a Management Consultants, Crincad and Cari Nigeria Limited in a letter submitted to the Committee dated March 12, 2021, declared such deductions as illegal.

“May we draw the attention of the Public Accounts Committee to the judgement of the Supreme Court in the case of A.G. FEDERATION Vs A. G. ABIA STATE & 35 ORS (2002), where the issue of Source Deduction to fund Joint Venture Contracts from the Federation Account was declared illegal and a perpetual injunction placed against such unconstitutional practices among others,” the letter by its President Elder Ngozika Ihuoma read in part.

Following the development, Hon Oke directed that NNPC and all its subsidiaries must appear and render their financial account, as they were expected to last week.

He then directed that the NNPC and its subsidiaries must cause appearance before the committee, or a warrant of arrest would be issued against them.

This came just as the Committee ordered about 25 other MDAs to cause appearance before it for non-rendition of their accounts within the same time

The MDAs are the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning; Ministry of Interior; Ministry of Works and Housing; Federal Inland Revenue Services; Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment; Zenith Bank Plc Headquarters; Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria; Ministry of Justice and the Nigeria Immigration Service.

Others are the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission; National Library of Nigeria; Fiscal Responsibility Commission; the Presidential Amnesty Programme; Standard Organization of Nigeria; Industrial Training Fund; National Lottery Trust Fund; West African Examination Council; Nigerian Football Federation and the North East Development Commission.

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