Senate Asks Minister, NEPZA MD to Refund N14.3bn
The Senate has directed the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelemah; and the acting Managing Director of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority, Terhemba Nongo, to return N14.3bn to the purse of the Federal Government.
It claimed that the money was diverted from the 2017 budget of NEPZA.
The directive was contained in a letter written by the Chairman of Senate Committee on Trade and Investment, Mohammed Sabo.
Sabo, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress representing Jigawa South-West, in the letter warned the minister and the NEPZA boss to either refund the money immediately or be prepared to face dire consequences.
The senator, while addressing journalists on Monday in Abuja, alleged that the money was transferred from NEPZA’s account into the account of a private company, the Nigerian Special Economic Zone Company.
He said the money was hurriedly transferred between April 8 and 10, despite an earlier warning not to do so.
Sabo claimed that the money was first lodged in NEPZA’s account domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria from 2017 budget allocations.
He said the money was thereafter moved into the private firm’s account.
The senator said, “To prevent this fraud, my committee wrote a letter to the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, on April 8, asking him not to release the money.
“But we have confirmed that the money has been released and transfered by NEPZA, in collaboration with the minister, into a private company’s account.
“This is unacceptable to us. Hence, we have directed that money be returned.”
Copies of the Senate committee’s letter, addressed to the minister, were made available to journalists.
The letter dated April 25 was tilted “Re: Transfer of N14.3bn from NEPZA Account to Nigeria Special Economic Zone Company.”
It read, “Pursuant to Section 80(2)(3) and (4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended and Financial Regulation, sections 313 and 314 and Senate Standing Order 98, 14(a-s) of 2015 as amended, we hereby write to you on the above matter.
“That you should return the N14.3bn that was transferred from NEPZA’s account to the Nigeria Special Economic Zone Company’s account.
“That the transferred money must be returned to the treasury within one week from the date of receipt of this letter.
“The available information shows that the said money is in the account of the Nigerian Special Economic Zone Company unappropriated for.
“That failure to comply with this directive will be visited with appropriate legislative action against your ministry as well as the company.”
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