Reps summon Finance, Justice Minister over alleged N91.9bn whistleblower payments

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L-R, Malami, Gbajabiamila, Ahmed

The House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating alleged missing crude oil has summoned the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) over N91.9bn ($200m) allegedly paid to ‘whistleblowers’.

Chairman of the Committee, Rep Mark Gbillah, who disclosed this during a public hearing in Abuja, expressed dismay over the non-compliance of the two ministers with the summons.

According to Rep Gbillah, notwithstanding the invitation letters, that the Committee sent to the duo, they had failed to show up to answer the issues.

The lawmaker appealed to them to appear before the committee or face the risk of arrest.

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He said: “We have not been getting any form of cooperation from the Ministry of Finance and Attorney General’s office regarding this investigation, despite the series of correspondence sent to them on this matter we are investigating.

“We’ve seen documentation from the Accountant-General’s office, where the Finance Minister approved the payment of the substantial amount of money to so-called whistle-blowers where details of monies recovered were not provided.

“’We’ve heard media reports indicating that millions of dollars were recovered through whistle-blower revelations on behalf of the country, but we as a parliament have not seen that those monies were routed through the constitutional appropriation process before they were expended.

“The constitution is very clear about the receipt and expenditure of Nigeria’s money.

“We’ve looked at the functions of the Attorney-General’s office and we’ve not seen any statutory powers provided for the Attorney-General by the constitution to determine how Nigeria’s money should be spent.

“There was an incident about a whistleblower, who made a formal report to Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, about $200million paid into two companies accounts, Biz Plus and GSCL, allegedly for consultancy services, which allegedly were approved by the Attorney-General’s office on the approval of Mr. President.

“We need the Minister of Finance, and the Attorney-General of the Federation to appear before this House to provide clarity on the inflows that have come in from whistle-blowers’ recoveries, and how these monies were recovered.

”The CBN is required to provide information that has been provided by these whistleblowers about substantial amounts of monies paid allegedly for consultancy services when there’s no record of any agreement entered into by those companies regarding any services.

“These are very weighty allegations and as a responsible House, we owe everybody a fair hearing and benefit of the doubt, and this is what we’ve been seeking to accord those who have been mentioned in these allegations.

”But we find it unfathomable that the Minister of Finance and Attorney-General of the Federation have not bothered to respond to any of the correspondences from the committee and this in our opinion shows a lack of regard not only to the institution of the House but also that of the National Assembly as a whole.

“We will make this further appeal to the Minister of Finance and Attorney General of the Federation and all others who have not responded or who have not honoured the committee’s invitations to do so in the national interest.

”In the event that they fail to do so, we will be constrained to invoke the instrument of the summons and all other necessary powers the National Assembly can exercise in this regard.

“But we want to make this a formal and final notice to them to cause appearance before the committee to give evidence with regards to the allegations that have been laid before the committee.”

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