By Adedapo Adesanya
The Senate Committee on Public Accounts has begun the investigation of N14.7 billion proceeds of privatisation of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) allegedly hidden in commercial banks by the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE).
The committee is acting on an audit query in the ‘Auditor-General for the Federation’s Annual Report on Non-Compliance/Internal Control Weaknesses Issues in Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria for the Year Ended 31st December 2019.’
The Acting Auditor-General of the Federation, Mr Adolphus Aghughu, had presented the report to the Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr Ojo Amos, on September 15, 2021, while the Senate and House Committees on Public Accounts began an investigation of the queries.
The defunct government-owned National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) was privatised and renamed PHCN, which was later unbundled to become the present generation and distribution companies.
The query stated that the funds from the PHCN privatisation were still in the banks as of December 31, 2016, whereas the privatisation of the PHCN had been concluded since 2013.
The query read in part, “Audit verification and reconciliation revealed that the sum of N14,720,396,432.43, being proceeds from the privatisation exercise of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria was reported in the bureau’s trial balance to be in commercial bank accounts as at31st December 2016.
“Whereas the privatisation of the PHCN was concluded in 2013, the proceeds are yet to be remitted to the Central Bank of Nigeria Privatisation Proceeds Accounts.
“The issue has been communicated to the bureau via a letter with reference no. OAuGF/RESAD/05/2016/07, dated 19th April, 2018, and no response has been received.
“Unauthorised funds kept in commercial banks may be diverted for other purposes, thereby leading to loss of revenue available for government programmes.
“The Director-General (of the BPE) is required to recover the sum of N14,720,396,432.43, being proceeds of the PHCN, and remit same to CRF and forward evidence of remittance to my office for audit confirmation.”
The BPE, in its written submission, however, stated that two separate sums of N3,231,984.73 allegedly held in Fidelity Bank Plc and N18,199,520.87 held in Stanbic Bank were “unaudited bank balances that were actually no longer in existence as of the date of the audited financial statements or asked questions, the matter would have been clarified.”
The bureau added, “With respect to the two other bank balances – N4.4bn (Access Bank Plc) and N10.2bn in FCMB, the correct balance in Access Bank as at 31/12/16 was NIL as the bank had transferred a swelled balance of $34.1m to the CBN Domiciliary Account.
“The bank had initially been unable to make the transfer as at September 2015 as required under the TSA policy, owing to the inexistence of designated USD Treasury Single Account for dollar balances
“The balance in the FCMB as of 31/12/2016 was only $36,053.55, following a transfer of $65,088,198.53.
“The residual balance remained until 18/95/17 due to inability of the bank to remit as required under the TSA policy, owing to initial unavailability of designated TSA for USD balances as required under the then newly introduced policy.”
The probe is expected to reveal whether the BPE’s claims are true or not.
Electoral Act: Nigerian Senate rescinds decision on Direct Primaries
The Nigerian Senate announced that it will rescind its decision on the affected Clause of the Bill as passed and re-commit same to the Committee of the Whole for consideration.
This was announced by the Senate during its plenary session on Wednesday and supported Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe.
This comes after the Senate had last year supported the amended Bill which included the adoption of Direct primaries.
What the senate said:
Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi approved the Withholding of Assent of Electoral Act No. 6 20210 (Repeal & Re-enactment) Bill, 2021 and its re-committal to the Committee.
Adding that it has agreed to “rescind its decision on the affected Clause of the Bill( Direct primaries) as passed and re-commit same to the Committee of the Whole for consideration.”
The Senate said its Committee of the Whole and Plenary approves Clause 84 as recommended. “Clause 84 in the Electoral Act N0. 6 is to make it possible for the country to have a new Electoral Law based on the reservations made by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR.”
Meanwhile following the adoption of a motion for the re-committal of the bill to the Committee of the Whole by Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi at Wednesday’s plenary, Abdullahi Speaking on the motion for re-committal said “This is to make necessary amendment in accordance with Order 87(c) of the Senate Standing Orders, 2022 (as amended); and relying on order 1(b) and 52(6) of the Senate Standing Orders, 2022 ( as amended).”
Recall Nairametrics reported earlier that Professor Attahiru Jega, Ex-Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), stated that dropping the issue of the direct primaries is in the best interest of all stakeholders for 2020, urging that over-riding the President’s decision may not be a good idea.
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SEC warns capital market operators against working with clients linked to proscribed terrorist groups
Nigeria’s security and Exchange Commission has notified Capital Market Operators (CMOs) not to work with clients related to proscribed terrorist groups in any part of Nigeria.
The SEC disclosed this in a circular after Nigeria’s Justice Ministry revealed a gazette declaring bandit groups operating in any parts of the country as Terrorists
They added that existing CMOs would be screened prior to executing any transaction from the date of the circular.
What the SEC is saying
The SEC warned that “Capital Market Operators (CMOs) are hereby notified that in line with the requirements of the Terrorism Prevention Act (No. 10,2011) and Terrorism (Prevention) Proscription Order Motion, 2021, the Federal Government of Nigeria has declared the activities of “YAN BINDIGA GROUP”, YAN TA’ADDA GROUP AND OTHER SIMILAR Groups in any part of Nigeria as Terrorism and Illegal.”
The SEC added that the FG has proscribed their existence and restrained any person or group of persons from participating in any manner whatsoever in any form in the activities of any of the groups.
They also stated that Capital Market Operators (CMOs) are required to screen and verify every client against the above-proscribed groups and any other proscribed terrorist group(s), citing the United Nation Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) list, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) list, etc. prior to the on-boarding of a new client and when carrying out one-off transaction(s).
It also urged CMOs to file suspicious transaction reports (STRs) immediately to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit.
What you should know
The FG released a gazette last week signed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN officially declaring bandit groups operating in any parts of the country as Terrorists.
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