The House of Representatives Committee on Public Procurement yesterday queried the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over the payment of $163.7 million to pre-shipment inspection agents (PIAs) involved in the monitoring of crude oil and gas exports from Nigeria from 2009 to 2014 without the approval of the National Assembly.
The committee, led by Mr. Wole Oke, also upbraided the Ministry of Finance for colluding with the CBN in the payment of the aforementioned. The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who testified at the resumed investigative hearing of the committee actually incurred the wrath of the lawmakers after he gave a run down of monies released to the PIAs within the period under the review.
Represented by Mr. Gabriel Dauda, the CBN boss informed the lawmakers that as a member of the NESS technical committee, it settled the PIAs’ claims based on the recommendation of the ministry of finance.
When asked by a member of the committee, Mr. Solomon Bulus Maren (Plateau: PDP) on how they were able to source such unbudgeted monies to pay the PIAs, the CBN boss explained that the deal was self-financing, adding the monies were sourced from the net collections of the PIAs in the oil deal.
This infuriated two other members of the committee who contended that both the CBN and the finance ministry had breached sections 80 and 81 of the 1999 Constitution as amended “by spending unappropriated monies” belonging to the government.
Besides, the committee insisted that the Finance Minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, would have to explain on Tuesday next week why her ministry directed the payment of PIAs’ claim even when the CCI did not indicate the volume of crude oil exports from oil terminals.
Adeosun, who was billed to appear yesterday, sent in words to the lawmakers that she would not be able to make it due to the cancellation of her flight from Lagos.