The Senate, on Wednesday, indicted the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency of financial misappropriation and ordered the agency to recover the sum of $10m it paid as legal and technical charges without recourse to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
The indictment was a sequel to the reports of 2017 and 2018 of the Auditor General of the Federation considered by the Senate Public Accounts Committee, which was upheld at the plenary session.
The $5m was said to be five per cent of the $9.3bn Nigerian hydro-carbon loss between 2013 and 2014. The law firm, not disclosed, was expected to carry out necessary legal actions that would enable NIMASA to perfect intelligence-based efforts to track the nation’s hydro-carbon global movement.
The AuGF report indicated that the money was paid from Zenith Bank.
Part of the query read: “Audit observed that the agency engaged the services of a legal firm through a letter with Reference Number NIMASA/DG/KP/2014/001, dated January 24, 2014.
“It was for the intelligence-based tracking of a global movement of Nigerian hydro-carbon and recovery of loss by the Federal Government of Nigeria in the sum of $9.3bn between 2013 and 2014, with a start-off cost of $5m and five per cent of all sums recovered.
“Payment instruction, with Reference Number NIMASA/2007/DFS/WJ/5.500/VOL.11/341, dated April 2014, showed that the firm was paid the sum of $4,523,809.52 net as professional fees from Zenith Bank (UK) dollar account. The naira equivalent of this amount was N741,904,761.28 at an exchange rate of N164 to a dollar as of that date.
“No evidence of recovery of either part or the entire sum of the $9.3bn was presented as at the time of the periodic check in February 2018, despite the huge amount of money already paid to this effect.”
The Senate, therefore, sustained the report of the committee which indicted NIMASA.
Addressing journalists after the presentation of the reports, the Vice Chairman of the Senate Public Accounts Committee, Senator Hassan Hadejia, said the committee had been able to submit four reports to the Senate.
He explained that the 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 reports of the auditor general had been submitted and considered by the Senate.
He gave the assurance that the committee would submit a bill seeking strict implementation of the National Assembly recommendation for the Annual Federal Audit Reports and for related matters, 2023 (SB.117) by next week, which will enable the country to fight corruption.