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Nigeria: U.S.$49.8 Billion Oil Fund - House C'ttee to Probe Okonjo-Iweala, NNPC

It appears the resumption of the House of Representatives is going to be a season of probes for the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who the Finance Committee of the House said it will probe over the alleged non-remittance of $10 billion to the Federation Account by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Also to be investigated by the committee, which last week and over the weekend raised eyebrows over the answers provided to the 50 questions on the state of the economy it handed to the minister last year and the waivers her ministry allegedly granted, is the NNPC.

Last year, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, had hinted that the sum of $49.8billion was 'missing' bit later said only $10billion was unaccounted for..

However, the committee Chairman, Hon. Abdulmumini Jibrin, yesterday said it was interested in finding out the true amount of money that was not remitted. A discrepancy of $2billion became evident after Sanusi and Okonjo-Iweala addressed a joint press conference, where the former reduced the unremitted figures to $12billion and the latter said it is $10billion.

It was against the backdrop given the differences in figures, a source said, that the finance committee said it was venturing into a full investigation with a view to coming up with the actual missing money by the NNPC.

One of the issues in the 50 questions handed to the finance minister by the lawmakers in December bothers on this matter. It asked the minister: "Is any money missing from our anticipated revenue from the NNPC in particular and oil industry in general. If there is, how much? If not, how come such issues emanate from high offices in the executive arm of government."

Unsatisfied with the 102-page answers Okonjo-Iweala gave recently, the lawmakers were said to have insisted that they wanted to know what was the true position of things regarding the unremitted funds, $10.8billion of which the NNPC explained had been spent on subsidies and repairs of vandalised petroleum pipelines across the country.

Only last Wednesday, Governor Rotimi Amaechi-led Nigerian Governors' Forum (NGF) demanded an independent audit to probe the National Assembly over the alleged missing $49.8billion, which they said, couldn't be duly traced in the Federation Account.

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