FG Extends 2016 Capital Budget Implementation

min-of-financeThe Federal Government has extended the implementation of the capital component of the 2016 budget from March 31 to May 5, or till the passage of the 2017 budget.

The Ministry of Finance confirmed in a statement that the Accountant-General of the Federation, Idris Ahmed, had issued a circular to all ministries, departments and agencies of government to inform them of the extension.

According to the ministry, the extension is to enable the MDAS utilise the 1 trillion Naira so far released for capital expenditure.

Finance Minister Says N5.1trn Released From 2016 Budget

Finance Minister Says N5.1trn Released From 2016 BudgetThe Federal Government has so far released ‎the sum of 5.1 trillion Naira out of 6.06 trillion Naira passed by the National Assembly in the 2016 budget.

The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, said this on Wednesday at a meeting organised by the Joint National Assembly Committee on Appropriation in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

Mrs Adeosun told the committee members that despite the shortfall in revenue in 2016, the Federal Government has so far released 870 billion Naira for capital expenditure, excluding the proceeds from the Eurobond.

However, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Danjuma Goje, sought to know if the Ministry of Finance diverted funds from loans to finance personnel expenditure rather than capital expenditure.

He also expressed dissatisfaction with the absence of the ‎Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) at the stakeholders meeting on implementation of the 2016 budget.

Senator Goje noted that the Acting Director from CBN, Mohammed Yakubu, was not competent to speak before the Joint committee, insisting that the CBN governor must appear before the committee latest Friday morning.

“We have left serious business of processing 2017 budget to ensure the level of implementation of the 2016 budget. It is Nigerians’ right to know the level of implementation.

“The CBN governor could not call us, he only sent an Acting Director in the CBN to appear before the committee,” he said.

Giving details of releases for 2016 budget before the committee, the Accountant-General of the Federation, Hammed Idris, informed the lawmakers that 870 billion Naira was released for capital projects which constituted 55%, while 2.3 trillion Naira was released for personnel cost and 351 billion Naira for statutory transfer.

Mr Idris added that 1.3 trillion Naira was meant for debit servicing, service wide votes for 285 billion Naira while overhead was 138 billion Naira.

He explained that personnel cost and debit service were achieved 100%, overhead cost achieved 85% while capital was achieved 55%.

On his part the Director-General of Budget Office, Ben Akabueze, said there was a shortfall of 1.1 trillion Naira in targeted Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) for 2016, explaining that only 398 billion Naira was realised in 2016 IGR out of targeted 1.5 trillion Naira.

He‎ attributed poor capital funding in 2016 to revenue shortfall, stressing that projection oil revenue only accounted for 20% of the total 2016 budget.

Mr Akabueze said “the reason we are unable to implement capital budget fully is as a result of shortfall in the IGR”.

He, however, failed to give a clear picture of how the loan borrowed was utilised, but promised the lawmakers for details before the end of implementation of 2016 budget.

Oil Licences: House Orders CBN, DPR, NNPC To Produce Records Of Payments

House, CBN, DPR, NNPC, Oil LicensesThe House of Representatives has given the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) one week to produce records of payments of application fees, signature bonuses and other fees paid by oil companies.

The decision followed a meeting between the House ad-hoc Committee on Oil Prospecting Licenses and Oil Mining Leases and representatives of the different agencies who had been invited to give details of the transactions.

Also present at the hearing on Monday were officials from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation and some oil companies.

The committee also heard from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on its role in such transactions involving oil companies.

The Chairman of the committee, Representative Gideon Gwani, said they have not received records of accounts where the fees for the oil prospecting licenses and the oil mining leases were lodged.

He stated that the committee was determined to resolve what he said had become a lingering problem in the petroleum sector.

The CBN Deputy Governor in charge of Operations, Mr Adebayo Adelabu, who sought to put things in perspective, explained what was being done to provide the needed records.

FG Releases Funds To Pay Super Eagles, Falcons Outstanding Benefits

Federation Cup, NFFThe Office of the Accountant General of the Federation has released the mandate to the Central Bank of Nigeria for payment of $1.173 million to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

This was revealed in a statement by the Director of Information of the OAGF, K.N Offie, on Friday.

The amount is meant to pay outstanding winning bonuses for Super Eagles in the 2018 World Cup qualifying matches and for the Super Falcons’ participation in the 10th Women’s Africa nations Cup.

This is in furtherance of the approval from the Minister of Finance for the said amount to be paid.

The mandate which is a sum of 358.015 million Naira, has been paid by the CBN as at Thursday December 15, 2016.

Similarly, another mandate for the sum of 113.820 million Naira, has also been released by OAGF for the payment of wining bonus for Super Eagles in the 2018 World Cup qualifying matches as well as Super Falcon’s participation in the 10th Women’s Africa Nation’s Cup.

This amount has also been paid to NFF and is equally sequel to the approval of the Honourable Minister of Finance.

Recovered Loot: SERAP Starts Committal To Prison Hearings Against Malami, Idris

Criminal CasesSocio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has commenced committal to prison hearings against the Federal Government, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami and the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr Ahmed Idris.

They are being tried “for having neglected to obey the order of the court made on Friday February, 26, requiring them to provide SERAP with up to date information on the spending of recovered stolen funds since the return of democracy in 1999”.

A statement by SERAP said  that the information ordered to be released by Justice Muhammed Idris of the Federal High Court Lagos include specific details on the total amount of recovered stolen public assets by governments since 1999; the amount that has been spent from the recovered stolen public assets and the objects of such spending; as well as details and location of specific projects on which recovered stolen public assets were spent.

The Form 49 “notice to show cause why order of committal should not be made” was filed at the Federal High Court, Lagos last week by SERAP Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni “following the service on Mr Malami and Mr Idris of Form 48 contempt suit, and the certified true copy of the judgment.”

Mumuni said, “Despite the service of both form 48 and the certified true copy of the judgment on both the Attorney General of the Federation and the Accountant-General of the Federation they have failed and/or neglected to acknowledge the judgment let alone obey it”.

“It has become painfully clear since the judgment was delivered that this government has no plan to enforce it. It’s dismaying that a government, which builds its reputation on combating grand corruption has not embraced the enormous opportunities the judgment provides to open the book on what exactly happened to recovered loot.

“It’s absolutely unacceptable to take the court, which is the guardian of justice in this country, for a ride. A democratic state based on the rule of law cannot exist or function, if the government ignores and/or fails to abide by Court orders,” Mumuni said.

The 69-page judgment in suit no: FHC/IKJ/CS/248/2011 signed by Honourable Justice Mohammed Idris reads in part: “Transparency in the decision-making process and access to information upon which decisions have been made can enhance accountability.

“Obedience to the rule of law by all citizens but more particularly those who publicly took oath of office to protect and preserve the Constitution is a desideratum to good governance and respect for the rule of law. In a constitutional democracy like ours, this is meant to be the norm.”

The group further pointed out that in respect of its reliefs on recovered stolen funds since return of democracy in 1999, the government had kept mute, insisting that the government had no such power under the law.

“There is public interest in public authorities and high-profile individuals being accountable for the quality of their decision making. Ensuring that decisions have been made on the basis of quality legal advice is part of accountability.

“I am of the view and do hold that the action should and does succeed in whole. Documents relating to the receipt or expenditure on recovered stolen funds since return of democracy in 1999 constitute part of the information which a public institution and authority is obligated to publish, disseminate and make available to members of the public.

“The government has no legally justifiable reason for refusing to provide SERAP with the information requested, and therefore, this Court ought to compel the government to comply with the Freedom of Information Act, as the government is not above the law,” SERAP pointed out.

Finance Ministry Begins Recovery Process For Un-remitted MDAs 450bn Naira

Nigeria-NairaThe Federal Ministry of Finance in Nigeria has set up a committee to recover un-remitted operating surpluses of Ministries Department and Agencies of the government, running into 450 billion Naira.

The committee led by the Accountant General of the Federation, Mr Ahmed Idris, is to reconcile the operating surpluses of 31 revenue-generating agencies of government from 2010 to 2015.

The findings of the committee so far, have shown under-remittance of over 450 billion Naira, which has accrued within the period.

The Finance Ministry stated that staff of the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation have critically reviewed the accounting statements of these agencies, which include the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Petroleum Technology Development Fund, (PTDF), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), among others.

The Committee will invite the management of these agencies to explain why their operating surpluses have not been remitted as mandated by the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007.

Sections 21 and 22 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007, specifically states that: The government corporations and agencies and government owned companies listed in the Schedule to this Act (in this Act referred of as “the Corporations”) shall, not later than six months from the commencement of this Act and every three financial years thereafter and not later than the end of the second quarter of every year, cause to be prepared and submit to the Minister their Schedule estimates of revenue and expenditure for the next three financial years.

The Act further stated that each of the bodies referred to in sub-section (1) of the section should submit to the Minister not later than the end of August in each financial year: an annual budget derived from the estimates submitted in pursuance of subsection (1) of this section; and a projected operating surplus which shall be prepared in line with acceptable accounting practices.

It also stated that the Minister shall cause the estimates submitted in pursuance of subsection (2) of this section to be attached as part of the Appropriation Bill to be submitted to the National Assembly.

Another part of the Act that pertains to the MDAs stated that notwithstanding the provisions of any written law governing the corporation, each corporation shall establish a general reserve fund and shall allocate thereto at the end of each financial year, one-fifth of its operating surplus for the year.

“The balance of the operating surplus shall be paid into the Consolidate Revenue Fund of the Federal Government not later than one month following the statutory deadline for publishing each corporation’s accounts,” the Act added.

Some of these agencies have incurred huge expenses on overseas training and medicals, and huge expenses on behalf of supervisory ministries and/other organs of government involved in oversight or regulatory functions without appropriate approval.

Other infractions include payment of salaries and allowances to staff and board members, governing councils, and commissions which are outside or above the amount approved by the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission (RMFAC) and the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission.

The list also includes unacceptable expenses incurred on donations and sponsorships among others. It also contained unfavourable contract signed for revenue collection by a third party; granting of staff loans that have not been repaid as well as sale and transfer of assets to board members, among others.

According to the Finance Ministry, the overall effect of these practices is that operating surpluses of these agencies are lower than it should be.

As a result of this, the Honourable Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun has directed the Accountant General of the Federation to issue a circular that will limit allowable expenses that can be spent as part of measures to ensure these agencies face strict monitoring.

This development is part of the resolve of the Honourable Minister to ensure that leakages are tackled.

Recovered Loot: SERAP Begins Contempt Suit Against FG, Others

fuel scarcityThe Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has commenced contempt proceedings against the Federal Government and some other government officials for failing to comply with a court judgment.

A Federal High Court had ordered the Federal government to publish the spending of recovered stolen funds since return of democracy in 1999.

Others named in the suit are the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami and the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr Ahmed Idris.

In a statement, the Executive Director of SERAP, Adetokunbo Mumui, said the contempt suit was filed “following the service on Mr Malami and Mr Idris of the certified true copy of the judgment of 24 March, 2016 by Justice Muhammed Idris”.

The form 48 contempt suit was filed at the Federal High Court in Lagos last week and it read: “Unless you obey the orders of the court contained on the reverse side of this process you shall be deemed to have disobeyed the orders of the court and shall be liable to committed to prison for contempt”.

The Form 48 is the notice of consequence of disobedience of court orders.

Mr Mumuni said: “Despite the service of the certified true copy of the judgment on both the Attorney General of the Federation and the Accountant-General of the Federation they have failed and/or neglected to acknowledge the judgment let alone obey it. It’s unacceptable to take the court, which is the guardian of justice in this country, for a ride. A democratic state based on the rule of law cannot exist or function, if the government ignores and/or fails to abide by Court orders”.

The 69-page judgment signed by Justice Idris read: “Transparency in the decision making process and access to information upon which decisions have been made can enhance accountability”.

“Obedience to the rule of law by all citizens but more particularly those who publicly took oath of office to protect and preserve the Constitution is a desideratum to good governance and respect for the rule of law. In a constitutional democracy like ours, this is meant to be the norm.

“In respect of the SERAP reliefs on recovered stolen funds since return of democracy in 1999, the government had kept mute. Let me say that they have no such power under the law.

“There is public interest in public authorities and high-profile individuals being accountable for the quality of their decision making. Ensuring that decisions have been made on the basis of quality legal advice is part of accountability.

“I am of the view and do hold that the action should and does succeed in whole. Documents relating to the receipt or expenditure on recovered stolen funds since return of democracy in 1999 constitute part of the information which a public institution and authority is obligated to publish, disseminate and make available to members of the public. The government has no legally justifiable reason for refusing to provide SERAP with the information requested, and therefore, this Court ought to compel the government to comply with the Freedom of Information Act, as the government is not above the law.

The judgment given in favour of SERAP against the Federal Government are:

1. A DECLARATION is hereby made that the failure and/or refusal of the Respondents to individually and/or collectively disclose detailed information about the spending of recovered stolen public funds since the return of civil rule in 1999, and to publish widely such information, including on a dedicated website, amounts to a breach of the fundamental principles of transparency and accountability and violates Articles 9, 21 and 22 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act.

2. A DECLARATION is hereby made that by virtue of the provisions of Section 4 (a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, the 1st Defendant/Respondent is under a binding legal obligation to provide the Plaintiff/Applicant with up to date information on the spending of recovered stolen funds, including:
(a) Detailed information on the total amount of recovered stolen public assets that have so far been recovered by Nigeria
(b) The amount that has been spent from the recovered stolen public assets and the objects of such spending
(c) Details of projects on which recovered stolen public assets were spent.

3. AN ORDER OF MANDAMUS is made directing and or compelling the Defendants/Respondents to provide the Plaintiff/Applicant with up to date information on recovered stolen funds since the return of civilian rule in 1999, including:
(a) Detailed information on the total amount of recovered stolen public assets that have so far been recovered by Nigeria
(b) The amount that has been spent from the recovered stolen public assets and the objects of such spending
(c) Details of projects on which recovered stolen public assets were spent

SERAP had on 28 March, sent a copy of the certified copy of the judgment to Mr Malami and Mr Idris, urging them to use their “good offices and leadership to ensure and facilitate full, effective and timely enforcement and implementation of the judgment”.

The letter to the government read: “Given the relative newness of the Buhari government, the effective enforcement and implementation of the judgment will invariably involve setting up a mechanism by the government to invite the leadership and high-ranking officials of the governments of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, and former President Goodluck Jonathan to explain, clarify and provide evidence on the amounts of stolen funds recovered by their respective governments (from abroad and within Nigeria), and the projects (including their locations) on which the funds were spent.

“SERAP therefore believes that the swift enforcement and implementation of this landmark judgment by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari will be litmus test for the President’s oft-repeated commitments to transparency, accountability and the fight against corruption, and for the effectiveness of the Freedom of Information Act in general.”

The organisation said that, “the enforcement and implementation of the judgment should not be delayed as to do this is to continue to frustrate the victims of corruption in the country since the return of democracy in 1999, and will threaten to undermine the authority of our judicial system”.

“SERAP trusts that you will see compliance with this judgment as a central aspect of the rule of law; an essential stepping stone to constructing a basic institutional framework for legality, constitutionality, the rule of law practice and culture in the country. We therefore look forward to your positive response and action on the judgment.”

Senate Summons AGF, Others Over MTN Fine

Senate on MTNThe Senate has summoned the Executive Vice-Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Professor Umar Danbatta, the Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris and Chief Executive Officer of MTN over claims that the MTN Nigeria had paid 50 billion Naira to the Federal Government.

The summon issued by the Senate Committee on Communications requires them to appear before the committee on March 10.

Also summoned is the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and the Minister of Communications Technology, Adebayo Shittu, on issues relating to the matter.

According to a letter of invitation dated March 3, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Gilbert Nnaji, said it discovered during one of its recent oversight functions that NCC could not provide any proof of the payment by MTN.

The committee said the MTN had been misguided to lodge the said 50 billion Naira into the Central Bank of Nigeria’s recovery account, specially designated for recovered funds.

Senator Nnaji’s committee said foul play was suspected over the manner of payment and the haste in which MTN withdrew its suit against NCC from the court.

The NCC had on February 29 affirmed the Federal Government’s receipt of 50 billion Naira towards settlement of the fine imposed on MTN Nigeria Communications Limited by the Commission.

The commission also affirmed the withdrawal of the suit involving the MTN, NCC and HAGF.

In a statement, the NCC’s Director, Public Affairs, Tony Ojobo, said that the official information to the Commission to that effect, was received from the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.

Falana Petitions EFCC On Abacha Loot

Abacha LootA Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, has asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate how $4 billion recovered from former military Head of State, General Sani Abacha was spent by the federal government.

The human rights activist wants the EFCC to specifically confirm the actual amount recovered from the Abacha loot and the extent of the alleged diversion of the said loot by former Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki and others.

The Lagos lawyer, who made this request in a petition dated December 18, 2015, and which was sent to the anti-graft agency, said that “unless the Abacha loot is fully accounted for, the Buhari administration will find it difficult to receive the cooperation of many governments in the ongoing efforts to recover the stolen wealth of the country”.

He also said, “Following the death of the then military Head of State, General Sani Abacha on June 8, 1998, his successor, General Abdulsalami Abubakar  ordered a  probe into the looting of the Central Bank of Nigeria from 1993-1998.

“At the end of the enquiry it was established that the late dictator stole about $5 billion from the vaults of the CBN through his National Security Adviser, Mr Mohammed Gwazo. A substantial part of the stolen fund has since been traced to over 140 bank accounts in western countries and some remote islands in the world.

“Based on the report of the investigations, the Federal Government recovered $635 million, £75 million, DM 30 million and N9 billion as well as several vehicles and properties in Abuja, Lagos and Kano together with 40% interests in West African Refinery in Sierra Leone.

“At page 495 of the second volume of  his book entitled  “My Watch” former President Obasanjo stated that “…by the time I left office in May 2009, over $2 billion and £100 million had been recovered from the Abacha family abroad, and well as  N10 billion in cash and properties locally.

“Under the Goodluck Jonathan Administration the recovery efforts continued and over $1 billion was recovered.

“But in a desperate bid to cover up the gross mismanagement and criminal diversion of the Abacha loot, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had repeatedly maintained that only $500 million had been recovered by the federal government.

“To lend credence to the fraudulent claim, the World Bank confirmed in a reply to an enquiry by SERAP that the $500 million recovered from the loot had been judiciously spent on some phantom development projects in several parts of the country.

“But following the recent revelation by the online tabloid, Premium Times that a substantial part of the loot had been criminally diverted, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala has admitted that she transferred $322 million from the Abacha loot to former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki to prosecute the war on terror.

“Apart from the said sum of £322 million, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala also released £5.5 million pounds to Col. Dasuki.

“Mrs Okonjo-Iweala’s excuse that the said sum of $322 million was released due to the urgency of the crisis in the north east region is untenable having regards to the fact that former President Jonathan had sought the approval of the National Assembly to take a loan of $1 billion to equip the armed forces to fight insurgency.

“Therefore, the self-induced urgency created by Mrs Okonjo-Iweala is not a justification for spending public funds without appropriation. It may interest you to know that the sum of $500 million allegedly spent on development projects was also not appropriated by the National Assembly.”

Federal Executive Council Meeting Postponed      

Executive Council The Federal Executive Council meeting earlier scheduled for Friday morning has been postponed till Monday, December 21.

Channels TV correspondent reports that most of the ministers had arrived before they were informed about the postponement.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, told newsmen that the postponement was to allow the ministers reflect on some of the corrections made on the 2016 budget proposal during a meeting of the National Economic Council held on Thursday.

“We are being given time between now and Monday to go and rejig our figures because when the National Economic Council met yesterday, certain issues were thrown up which if not resolved will distort the entire budget proposal.

” So we are all going to get back on areas in which each ministry will go and do its own rejigging,” he said.

Abacha Loot: NEC Puts Figure At $26.4m And £19m

AbachaThe National Economic Council says the loots recovered from late General Sanni Abacha now stands at $26.4 million and £19 million as at November.

At the end of the Council meeting on Thursday, presided over by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, gave reporters the figures.

Earlier in the meeting the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, presented the figures.

Mr Idris said the dollar account, as at November 2015 ending, had a balance of $26.389 million while the pounds sterling account had a balance of £19. 033 million.

The Accountant General also reported to the Council that the ECA stood at $2.257 billion as at the end of November, 2015.

Also giving the Council an update on the nation’s economy, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, pointed out that the drop in oil price had put a serious pressure on the country’s reserve which currently stands at $29 billion.

He also put the interest on the account at $599 million.

The Minister of National Planning, Udo Udoma, also told reporters that his ministry had presented the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the Fiscal Strategy Paper, which highlight government’s fiscal policy strategy and direction for the next three years, to the Council.

He urged the states to adopt the MTEF and FSP which had now been approved by the national assembly.