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Missing Oil Money: Finance Minister Puts Pressure On Jonathan; NGF Lends Support For Forensic Audit Of NNPC …Tambuwal Vows To Probe Revenue Losses

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The Finance Minister has released a statement calling for an urgent independent probe of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation.
The statement said,” the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has asked for urgent action with regard to an independent forensic audit of conflicting claims of unaccounted funds made by the NNPC and suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallan Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.
Dr Okonjo-Iweala added, ‘my position on this has been clear from the start. The ministry of Finance’s reconciliation showed a shortfall of $10.8billion in NNPC remittances to the federation account. After this, the conflicting claims continued with new figures such as $20billion being mentioned.
‘So since 13th February I have called for an independent forensic audit.
President Goodluck indeed announced on last (Monday) night that there will be an investigation into whether there are any funds missing from NNPC.
He also indicated that the correct process needs to be followed in this investigation and I understand that the entity that has the proper authority to initiate such an investigation is the Auditor-General of the  Federation.
“I therefore want to see the truth from an investigation  under the auspices of the Auditor General, which in my view should be undertaken as a matter of extreme urgency by independent external auditor”, the state concluded.
Similarly, the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) yesterday expressed support for the call by the Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the Senate, for a forensic audit of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) account.
Chairman of the NGF and Governor of Rivers State, Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, said this in a statement shortly after an emergency meeting of the forum, which ended at the early hours of yesterday in Abuja.
The NGF said that an independent forensic audit of the NNPC would put paid to the issue of missing oil revenue from the Federation Account.
Amaechi commended the Federal Government efforts at curbing Boko Haram insurgents in the North.
While condemning the current spate of killings in the North- East, it applauded the effort of the Nigerian military and other security agencies, which were tackling the insurgents.
Amaechi, who read the communiqué to newsmen, called on the Federal Government to be more responsive to the people.
“We expect that the Federal Government should wake up to its responsibility of protecting lives and property in the country, especially in the North-East,” he said.
Amaechi reiterated the forum concern on the non-conveyance of the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting by the Federal Government.
According to him, the NEC meeting has not been held for seven months, this he said, has hindered the constitutional opportunity to discuss the state of the nation’s economy.
He appealed to the judiciary, particularly the Supreme Court, to accelerate hearing on constitutional cases such as the case of the Excess Crude Account and illegal deduction of oil subsidy.
He described the impeachment move against Governor Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa, as a renewed assault on constitutional democracy.
The NGF is an umbrella association of the 36 elected state governors of the federation, irrespective of party affiliation.
Sen. Bukola Saraki, a former governor of Kwara, also made a brief appearance at the meeting.
However, the Speaker, House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, has reiterated the parliament’s resolve to continue on the path of “truth” while addressing issues of revenue losses.
Tambuwal said this yesterday in Abuja at the investigative hearing on the alleged connivance of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) with Swiss oil dealers to rob Nigeria of billions of dollars.
The hearing was organised by the Joint committees on petroleum resources (upstream), petroleum resources (downstream) and Justice.
The Speaker, who was represented by the Chairman, Committee on Justice, Rep. Ali Ahmad, said that the importance of the investigation could not be over- emphasised.
Tambuwal said that it was based on this conviction that the House of Representatives, in its wisdom, referred the allegation to the joint committees to investigate.
He urged the committees to carry out the investigation with an “open mind”.
Earlier, the lead Chairman of the joint committees, Rep. Muraina Ajibola (PDP-Oyo), said that the hearing was not aimed at witch-hunting anybody.
He assured that the investigation would be carried out with a sense of “seriousness” to get to the root of the matter.

L-R:NNPC Group Managing Director, Mr Andrew Yakubu (right), with members of the House Joint Committee on Petroleum Resources Downstream, Upstream and Justice, investigating the alleged connivance of NNPC with Swiss Oil dealers to rob Nigeria in Abuja, yesterday

L-R:NNPC Group Managing Director, Mr Andrew Yakubu (right), with members of the House Joint Committee on Petroleum Resources Downstream, Upstream and Justice, investigating the alleged connivance of NNPC with Swiss Oil dealers to rob Nigeria in Abuja, yesterday

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90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”

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We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.

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Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW

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Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.

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