The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelamah and the Acting Managing Director of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority ( NEPZA), Engineer Terhemba Nongo have been ordered by the Senate to return a diverted sum of N14.3 billion from 2017 NEPZA budget into the National Treasury with immediate effect.
In a letter by the Chairman Senate Committee on Trade and Investment, Senator Mohammed Nakudu Sabo ( Jigawa South West), the parliament directed the Minister and NEPZA boss to either comply with the directive or be ready to face serious legislative action.
Source: Nigeria News
Senator Sabo told the media in Abuja on Monday, that the Committee was irritated by the hurried diversion of the said N14.3billion transferred from NEPZA account into that of a private company called Nigerian Special Economic Zone Company between 8th and 10th of this month despite earlier warnings given. He said the diverted fund was first warehoused in NEPZA account with the CBN from 2017 budget allocations before moving it into the private company account about two weeks ago.
The chairman said “to prevent this fraud, my committee wrote a letter to the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele on the 8th of this month not to release the money but very annoyingly, the money is confirmed to have been released and transferred by NEPZA in collaboration with the Minister into a private company account. This is unacceptable and will not be condoned, hence the need for the money to be returned into the national treasury.”
The Committee in the letter titled: “Re: Transfer of N14.3billion from NEPZA Account to Nigeria Special Economic Zone Company” and addressed to the Minister said : 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 transferred N14.3 billion naira from NEPZA account to the Nigeria Special Economic Zone Company 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 to the committee shows that the said money is in the account of the Nigerian Special Economic Zone Company inappropriate for.
“That failure to comply with this directive will be visited with appropriate legislative action against your ministry as well as the company “
Source: Daily Post
The letter dated 25th April 2019 and personally signed by Senator Mohammed Nakudu Sabo was received in the Minister’s office on the 26th of this month. It would be recalled that NEPZA MD had on the 11th of this month at the 2019 budget defence session with the committee, declared that warehousing of the N14.3 billion was not done fraudulently but in line with the country’s Industrial Revolution Plan and approval of a memo submitted to that effect by the Hon Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah in June 2018 .
According to him, in 2014, the Federal Government of Nigeria introduced the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan ( NIRP) in its bid to promote diversification of the economy and address the fundamental issues affecting productive activities.
“Subsequently, the present administration also introduced the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan ( ERGP), which adopted the substantial ideas and strategies identified in the NIRP.
“The total sum of N48.14billion was appropriated in the 2017 Appropriation Act for NEPZA out of which the sum of N20.5billion only was released.
“However, there was a turn of events. A memo dated 28th June 2018 was submitted to the Federal Executive Council ( FEC) by the Honorable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment seeking among other things :
“The recognition of a newly formed Company named the Nigeria Special Economic Zones Company ( NSEZCO) as the entity for all Federal Government of Nigeria investments and proprietary interests in existing and future Special Economic Zones.
(This article was written by Tunde Opalana)