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Senate Gives NNPC, NUPRC Boss 24 Hours To Appear For Budget Defense

The Senate Committee on Public Accounts raised concern on Tuesday about the impunity with which the management of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) has serially snubbed invitations to answer queries on the missing $1 billion reflected in the report of the Auditor-General of the Federation.

Chairman of the Committee, Senator Aliyu Wadada, expressed disappointment, saying the committee wrote several letters of invitation intimating the NPA management of the need to appear for the investigative hearing on operations and revenue management of the agency, but they declined to appear.

Briefing the Senate press corps after the committee meeting, Wadada pointed out that while the Auditor-General’s report was never an indictment, he accused the Managing Director of NPA, Mohammed Bello Koko, of constituting himself into an authority who felt that he was above accountability.

Snubbing a parliamentary investigative committee, Wadada insisted, undermines the principles of accountability as enshrined in the Constitution, noting that the NPA management team and all similar others were occupying the position of trust on behalf of Nigerians.

The lawmaker noted that they have carried out what he called a “status inquiry” and discovered missing funds, a development that raised further need for a discrete inquiry by the committee.

He said: “This committee relies partly and not wholly on the Auditor General for the Federation’s audit report to discharge its responsibilities. But beyond that, the committee also goes on a status inquiry where it writes ministries, departments, and agencies where it wants to know the status of these agencies.

“Some of these queries have something to do with the indebtedness of terminal operators, which is almost a billion dollars: eight hundred and fifty-two million dollars, ninety-three thousand, seven hundred and seventy-seven cents.

“There is also outstanding estate rent, shipping dues, and service boats of over 68 million dollars. The status of long-standing debtors is an issue to be answered by the Nigeria Ports Authority. This is not to talk about issues surrounding Lagos channel management and Calabar channel management.”

He vowed that his committee would compel accounting officers of government agencies to do the right thing for the nation to move forward, adding that the government relies heavily on NPA for revenue generation.

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