The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is ready to grill some ex-ministers who served under the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan as well as some serving and ex-permanent secretaries and directors of budget and finance in charge of revenue-generating Ministries Departments and Agencies, The PUNCH has learnt.
The fresh investigation, it was learnt, was sequel to a report by the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, that the Federal Government would prosecute any official of revenue-generating agencies indicted in the audit report, which revealed that N450bn was not remitted to the Consolidated Revenue Fund Account.
The unremitted amount, which involved about 33 revenue-generating agencies of government, was for the 2010 to 2015 fiscal period which falls under the leadership of Jonathan.
Some of the agencies are the Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigeria Shippers’ Council, Nigerian Export Promotion Council, National Health Insurance Scheme, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and Nigerian Communications Commission.
Others are the Nigerian Postal Service, National Information Technology and Development Agency, Nigerian Television Authority, Bureau of Public Enterprises, National Pension Commission and Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc.
The list also has the Raw Materials Research and Development Council, Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, and the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria.
It was gathered that the commission would this week interrogate the affected officers, a majority of whom served between 2010 and 2015.
A source at the EFCC said, “We will invite the permanent secretaries of some of the agencies because the permanent secretaries are the chief accounting officers. We will also invite the directors of finance and budget in some of these agencies while the ministers that we believe may have approved such spending will also be invited.
“We discovered that many of these infractions had been taking place but never received much attention from the Federal Government because of the excess oil money during the Jonathan administration. Now that the Federal Government is cooperating fully with us, we will look into the matter thoroughly.
“We discovered that many agencies have never paid any money and never generated any operating surplus including some whose salaries, overheads and capital are paid by the Federal Government. In addition to that, they generate revenue which they spend without any form of control.”
The EFCC told our correspondent that many of the heads of the agencies were already under probe or were already being prosecuted.
The detective noted that a former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi, and some directors of the agency were already being prosecuted for an alleged N34.5bn fraud.
The source at the EFCC said, “We are aware that money which was meant to be deposited into the Consolidate Revenue Fund Account was diverted while agencies were making extra-budgetary expenses. In some instances, such was done with the collusion of ministers.
“You are aware that a former Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah, gave approval to the NCAA to spend N255m on two cars. We have already charged her.’’
The National Assembly had argued that the 31 agencies listed as revenue-generating had their budgets shrouded in secrecy which had let to abuse.
For instance, in the case of the NCAA, the purchase of the two vehicles for Oduah was not listed in the budget by the agency.
The ministry’s own budget too had no plan to purchase any car for the minister or other officials.
Oduah’s spokesman, Joe Ibi, had told The PUNCH that the cars were to protect Oduah from “imminent threats” bred by the minister’s purported radical reforms in the aviation industry.
It was the secrecy that had ostensibly helped NCAA and others spend freely with little or no oversight.
All the funds used by the NCAA were internally generated from charges on airlines, passengers and fines etc as stipulated by the Civil Aviation law.
Between 2009 and 2012, the agency raised N35.3bn and spent all of it on its internal needs, according to the National Assembly Budget and Research Office.
Adeosun had said, “Some agencies have never credited the Consolidated Revenue Fund despite having salary, capital and overhead (expenditures) financed by the Federal Government. Indeed, cost to income rates of 99.8 per cent has been the average, meaning that they spend all their internally generated revenue and subventions released to them.”
Source: The Punch