Missing oil billions: Sanusi roars again, says NNPC has no right to keep $10.8bn

Posted by News Express | 18 January 2014 | 4,143 times

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The controversy surrounding the oil billions which the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) failed to pay into government account is far from being over.

In an interview published yesterday by Bloomberg, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, said the state oil company had no right to retain $10.8 billion in income, which has contributed to a drop in savings that’s left the nation exposed to possible price shocks.

“Given where the oil price is, we should have more in terms of reserves and savings, and because we don’t have that we are susceptible to shocks in the event of a decline in the oil price,” Sanusi, 52, said in a Jan. 15 interview at the central bank’s headquarters in the capital, Abuja.

A letter Sanusi wrote to President Goodluck Jonathan alleging that NNPC had withheld $49.8 billion in revenue sparked a public outcry when it was leaked to local newspapers last month. Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told reporters on December 18 that a reconciliation of the accounts showed unaccounted oil receipts stood at $10.8 billion.

“No one has the right to retain money that should have gone to the federation account, so the fact that you’ve admitted retaining, or withholding $10 billion is itself bad enough,” Sanusi told Bloomberg. “This money was supposed to come in and if it came in, it would be part of our reserves and part of our excess crude savings.”

Bernard Otti, the NNPC’s group executive director of finance and accounts, said on January 10 that the $10.8 billion was spent on pipeline repairs, fuel subsidies and reserve fuel.

The lack of accounting in oil revenues has increased pressure on Jonathan as he faces defections from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party and former President Olusegun Obasanjo criticised him for failing to tackle corruption.

•Photo shows CBN Governor Sanusi.

Source: News Express

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