The Peoples Democratic Party on Sunday pleaded with the National Assembly to, as true representatives of the people, be firm in invoking its powers under Sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to invite President Muhammadu Buhari to give account of alleged missing $1bn drawn from the Excess Crude Account by his Presidency, allegedly without recourse to legislative appropriation.
The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement also urged the NASS to respond to demands by Nigerians by immediately setting up an ad hoc committee to recover the alleged missing fund drawn by the Buhari Presidency in 2017 that was meant for security services.
He said the demand by the PDP was predicated on allegations of complicity in the public space against the Buhari Presidency, following its alleged failure to address the matter “since the National Security Adviser, Gen. Babagana Mongunu (retd.), who is in charge of the nation’s security architecture, confessed that he is not aware of the whereabouts of the money.”
He said, “Whereas Section 88 gives the National Assembly the overriding powers to conduct investigations to, among other things, expose corruption and inefficiency in administration of public funds, Section 89 empowers it, among other things, to summon any person in Nigeria to give evidence or produce any document under his possession or control, related to the issues under investigation.
“The PDP therefore urges the National Assembly to uphold the constitution by inviting President Buhari to produce documents that approved the withdrawal of the money, the terms of withdrawal, the channeling of the funds, as well as those involved in its handling.”
Ologbondiyan further implored the NASS to “stand in the interest of the nation and resist all plots allegedly by the All Progressives Congress and the cabal at the Presidency to sweep the matter under the carpet.”
He called on the legislators to reflect on the pains of Nigerians, particularly, victims of killings, bloodlettings, kidnappings and other acts of violence, which continued unrepressed, while funds meant for security were allegedly being frittered.
He said, “This is especially as allegations in the public space remain rife that funds meant for security in our nation were diverted to finance APC 2019 election campaigns, while insecurity festers in our country.
“The PDP notes that since the Buhari Presidency and the APC do not have any cogent clarifications, the National Assembly should exercise its investigative powers under the constitution to interrogate the issue as well as recover the money in the general interest.”
However, the Presidency through the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, had in a statement said N876.9m had already been spent from the money domiciled at the Central Bank of Nigeria.
According to him, a balance of $123,111,571.29 had remained unspent at the CBN.
He said, “Here is as much detail as we can provide at this time concerning the $1bn from Excess Crude Account whose withdrawal was authorised by the National Economic Council.
“The record we have is that the Buhari administration paid $496,374,470 for a dozen Super Tucano fighter aircraft for the Air Force in a direct, government-to-government (no contractors or commission agents) transaction with the government of the U.S. They are due for delivery in 2020.
“Various other military procurement for critical equipment have been made. These are for the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Navy, amounting to $380,513,958.71.
He added, “These procurements included money for the purchase of Navy Lynx helicopters. Total amount spent so far: $876,888,428.71. The equipment paid for have due dates of delivery of between six months to two years.
“Balance of the money that is unspent as at today is $123,111,571.29.”
He added that in cases where the Nigerian government dealt with equipment manufacturers, their home governments had in all cases given guarantees to the Federal Government.
Garba said, “Again, it is important to stress that no contractors or commission agents have been involved in the procurement under discussion.
“All $1bn was domiciled in the CBN and to date, not a single Dollar of it has been transferred to the Ministry of Defence or any other ministry, agency of government, individuals or political party office as was the norm under the PDP administration.”