Reps Demand Evidence Of $11b Withdrawal From ECA

Controversial power sector funding returns to the front burner

THE House of Representatives has requested documentary evidence of over $11 billion withdrawn from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) between 2005 and 2007 during former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration.

Chairman of the Ad-Hoc Committee on Power Sector Reform and House Leader Alhassan Ado Doguwa issued the directive after a presentation before the committee by Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) Ahmed Idris.

Doguwa also queried the discrepancies in the amount withdrawn from the ECA; the N1.3 trillion announced by the Federal Ministry of Finance in its submission before the committee; the need for clarification on an additional $2.9 billion withdrawn from the ECA; another N600 billion assurance facility paid in 2019; and N701 billion loan given to the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET) company between 2017 and 2018.

It was gathered that former President Obasanjo informed the National Assembly via a letter Ref. No: PRES/134 of September 9, 2005 that $2,859,390,31.61 was released from the Excess Crude Savings account for the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP) from 2005 to 2007.

Idris told the committee that $8.234 billion was expended between 2005 and 2007 from the ECA as approved by the National Economic Council (NEC).

The AGF document to the National Assembly said: “You may wish to note that mandates were issued to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the total sum of $3,068,167,378.92. However, mandates for the sum of $364,513,747.31 were not applied by CBN and the total sum of $364,513,747.31 was reversed.

“Subsequently, approval was given to use part of the unapplied mandates for the payment of $155,736,700 to Kaztec Engineering Ltd, leaving a balance of $208,777,047.31 as analysed in the summary and Ledger.

“On 19th June, 2008, the National Economic Council approved the sum of $5.375 billion be sourced from Excess Crude Savings Account by Federal, States and Local Government Councils in the sum of $2,463,448,500, $1,948,244,000 and $963,307,500 respectively and to be utilized on the Emergency Power projects. The total amount withdrawn for the power project from ECA was $8,234,390,331.61”.

“It however gave a condition that PCARA report must not be leaked in any manner to the press to avoid distraction  of its activities.

“With the concession by the panel, Magu will now open his Defence from Thursday or thereabout. He will be able to tender his defence which has not been accepted by the panel because the allegations were yet to be served on him. This is a good dimension.”

A letter written to Salami’s panel by Magu’s counsel, Wahab Shittu however pledged that the suspended acting EFCC chairman will cooperate with the panel.

In the letter, Shittu said Magu had not at any time challenged the mandate of the panel or engaged in any boast or queried the panel.

The letter, which was submitted yesterday, reads in part:”We state for the records that we are not in a position to query the Honourable panel and certainly will never set out doing so.

“Rather, our intention was to draw the attention of the Honourable panel to persistent falsehood publications concerning our client being orchestrated consistently in the public space in a manner that could prejudice the proceedings of this Honourable panel.

“We apologize if any contrary interpretation of our intention is conveyed by the context in which the questions were raised in the referred letter. We hold the panel in the highest esteem.

“Our client wishes to place on record his appreciation to the chairman members of the panel for ordering his release from custody on the 15th day of July 2020 without any conditionalities.

“Our client appreciates this gesture given the fact that the panel has repeatedly stated that it did not order the detention of our client in the first place. Our client is grateful for the gesture.

“Our client while appreciating the panel offers full cooperation to the panel in the discharge of its assignment.

“Our client believes in the work of the committee because of his commitment to ridding the country of corruption.”