The Senate Committee on Public Account, headed by Senator Mathew Urhoghide, has uncovered the sum of $100 million released to the Ministry of Aviation for upgrade of four airports by former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala without authorisation of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Senator Urhoghide, who presided over the sitting of the committee on Thursday, said that the former Finance Minister failed to secure an approval from the former President before releasing the said sum for
The affected airports include the Lagos Airport, Abuja Airport as well as the airports in Kano and Port Harcourt.
Senator Urhoghide said that the then Minister and the Director General of the then Debt Management Office (DMO) acted on their own accord without due process.
He said: ” You made payment to chains company and the letter in page 12 signed by one Haruna Mohammed only indicated that, the ministry had written to the President informing him on how the money will be spend.”
The Public Accounts Committee is investigating the expenditure of $650 million Eurobond meant for the Power sector under the previous administration.
The senator read a document from the DMO which indicated that the former President only minuted “noted” on the letter sent to him by the Ministry adding that the ministry took that to be approval from the
“We put it to you that what the Minister considered as an approval was not. The letter that was submitted was for issue of meter and even on the $100 million,” he said.
He also asked the DMO who authorized the payment adding that the minister never ask for the President for approval, as according to him, it was very unfortunate for the DMO boss to have acted on the letter.
Incumbent Director General of DMO Patience Oniha who appeared before the committee said that some high level discussion happened that make the ministry to take decision but that she was not there.
She stated that the letter came from the Ministry’s department on International Economic Relations which was supposed to handle the letter.
She said: “The minister knew about the letter and he (Haruna) signed for the minister.
“The authorization came from finance minister and they made the submission to the president.”
Part of the letter addressed to the then Director General Debt Management office Abuja, Dr Abraham Nwankwo, 6th November 2013, which has now become contentious reads: “Re Construction of 4 new Airport Terminals in Abuja, Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt and Galaxy Backbond Project.
“Request for payment of $107,646,049.00.
“I am directed to refer to the above subject and to request you to remit the above count part found to Chinese contractor handing the 2 identified project from the proceed of the Euro Bond as follows:
Airport – Terminals
Account Name: China Civil Engineering Construction
Bank name : Bank of Communication, Beijing Xui Sub branch
Bank address: 40 Fuxing Road Haidian District, Beijing, China.
Swift Number COMMCNSHBJG
Account Number: 110060587246300001694.
“As you are aware, the NSIA has indicated it intention to invest in the Airport Terminals Expansion project in the sum.
“Please kindly notify us as soon as the transfer is effected to enable us convey same in order to trigger disbursement of the loan.”