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CBN, Adeosun in NASS net for buying $462m helicopters without approval in March

The Nigerian upper legislative chambers on Tuesday summoned the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun and her Defence counterpart, Mansur Dan-Ali to appear before it.

The trio are to appear and explain why they should not be sanctioned for contravening procurement process in the withdrawal and subsequent purchase of $462m helicopters from an American firm in March this year.

Their alleged key offence is withdrawing such a high amount which is over and above their approval limit without recourse to the Senate.

Trouble started on Tuesday when the Chairman, Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges, Sen. Sam Anyanwu, at plenary raised a Point-of-Order saying”I have it on good authority that in March, 2018, from the Federation Account, a sum of 462 million dollars was withdrawn and paid for helicopters to an American firm”.

“This is without the approval of the National Assembly. I know that at no time was there any request from this Senate for any such withdrawal from the Consolidated Revenue Account of the federation.

“I want to find out if anything was done.

Continuing, the Senator (PDP) representing Owerri Zone of Imo State averred that “I will suggest we invite the CBN Governor, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Defence to tell us how this money was withdrawn and paid into an American company without the approval of the Senate”.

Further relying on the provisions of Section 80 (2 and 3) of the Constitution which clearly stipulates that “no monies shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the federation except to meet expenditure that is charged upon the fund by the Constitution,” to bring to the fore that such withdrawal without Senate approval or notice is a clear contravention.

Senator Anyanwu further argued that “No monies shall be withdrawn from any public fund of the federation other than the Consolidated Revenue Fund unless the issue of those monies have been authorised by the Act of the National Assembly.”

In his remarks after the revelation, Deputy President of the Senate, Mr. Ike Ekweremadu, who presided at the plenary, referred the matter to the Appropriation Committee and gave it one week to report back.

By the summon, the three government officials are expected to appear before the Appropriation Committee within days so as to enable the Committee prepare a report for presentation to the plenary in record seven days as ruled by the presiding Deputy Senate President.

However, it was not clear if the presidency may have given the approval which analysts say whether or not, must be referred to the Senate for withdrawal legitimacy unless the money was not sourced from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the federation as revealed.