How do you sweep $20 billion under the rug?
Samuel Ukura, Nigeria’s auditor general, told the country’s senate on Thursday that he wouldn’t investigate an alleged $20 billion hole in the finances of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Last month, President Goodluck Jonathan suspended Nigeria’s well-respected central banker, Lamido Sanusi, just weeks after he wrote to parliament about missing funds from the state-owned company.
Since then, Nigerians have been calling on officials to look into the missing billions.
The country’s minister of finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has previously told the Senate Committee on Finance that she would hire foreign experts to audit the NNPC, but the committee also called on the Auditor General’s office, according to Vanguard.
However, when he spoke at a public hearing, the auditor referred to various sections of the constitution that prohibit the office from probing state-owned companies.
Section 85 of the 1999 constitution allows the Auditor General to audit public accounts, but also prohibits them from doing the same to statutory agencies.
“The public accounts of the Federation and of all offices and courts of the Federation shall be audited and reported on to the Auditor-General,” reads section 85 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
But the next paragraph reads that nothing in the section “shall be construed as authorizing the Auditor-General to audit the accounts of or appoint auditors for government statutory corporations, commissions, authorities, agencies, including all persons and bodies established by an Act of the National assembly,” The Petroleum Product Pricing and Regulatory Agency, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company and the NNPC appeared before the committee, which asked all of them submit written details of every financial transaction between August and December of last year, according to PM News Nigeria.
(Note: Nigeria photo by Shutterstock.com.)