The House of Representatives on Thursday unveiled plans to investigate the flagrant disregard to Presidential directive prohibiting Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) from operating private accounts with commercial banks since the introduction of the Treasury Single Accounts (TSA).
The House passed the resolution after the debate on a motion of urgent public importance sponsored by Hon. Kolawole Lawal, who expressed grave concern over the controversies trailing the $1,034,515,000,003 domiciled in a commercial bank by Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) which was made public by a whistleblower.
To this end, the House resolved to investigate the alleged illegal secret bank account opened by NPA domiciled with Unity Bank for the collection of revenue from vessels, as well as ascertain the veracity of claimed by both parties.
In his lead debate, Hon. Lawal noted with keen interest the controversies generated by a whistle-blower who claimed that while acting in line with the Whistle-blower policy of the Federal Government and duly informed in confidence the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) about the hidden or secret account.
The lawmaker also noted that the Whistle-blower alleged that the information he gave to the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) led to the exposure of an illegal secret account in Unity Bank, Lagos Branch purportedly operated by NPA where the sum of $1,034,516,000 was kept contrary to financial regulations and the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
According to him, the whistleblower also alleged that the information was verified and approved by the AGF as qualified for financial reward as prescribed under the Whistle-blower policy of the Federal Government, subsequently based on the advice of the AGF, a written agreement was executed between the representative of the whistle-blower (Mamman Maiyaki 85 Co, Legal Practitioners) and the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), as evidence of the transaction.
“The House notes that Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in response to these allegations admitted it operates an account with Unity Bank PLC Lagos Branch (account number 0013670344) with a total sum of $1,057,772.03 as of 4th December 2019 but denied the sum of $1,034,515,000,003 as alleged by the Whistle-blower.
The House also noted that the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) further admitted that the bank account mentioned by them, i.e. 0013670344, had not been operated since 27th August 2010 due to Garnishee. Order is given by the Federal High Court Which was subsequently affirmed by the Supreme Court eight years, after in the case of Aminu Ibrahim & Co vs. Nigerian Ports Authority (Suit No. FHC/L/CS/ 582/ 2010).
“The House further observed that the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) claimed that upon the determination of the case at the Supreme Court, the judgement creditors continued with Garnishee process which resulted in the payment of the sum of $1,057,772.03 from the account mentioned by them to the judgment Creditor on the 4th December 2019 in line with the Garnishee Order absolute.
“The House is concerned that the material particulars of the allegations by whistle-blower have been contradicted by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) but since the public fund is involved in the matter, it is imperative that the House intervene in the crisis with a view to establishing the true situation in the public interest.
“The House is further concerned also that the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) may be operating from other accounts in a similar situation.
“The House wonders if NPA or any Federal Government MDA have authority to pay any public money to any judgment creditor in satisfaction of a judgment debt without obtaining the prior approval of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) in view of the clear provisions of Section 84 of the Sheriffs and Civil Process Act CAP 56 LFN 2004 which provides that the prior consent of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) should be obtained before any MDA can transfer public funds to a judgement creditor in satisfaction of a judgement debt.
“The House also wonder if the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) or any Federal Government MDA have authority to keep revenue generated in any commercial bank in view of clear provisions of Section 162 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) which provides all revenue collected by the Government of the Federation shall be paid into a Special Account called the Federation Account,” he stated.
To this end, the House mandated the joint Committees on Finance and Ports and Harbours to investigate the allegations and counter-allegations, determine if the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) or any of their personnel committed any infractions as alleged.
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