Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: Arguments As CBN Confronts NNPC Over Missing U.S.$49.8

Attempt by the Federal Government to douse the tension generated by the claim by the Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, that the sum of $49.8 billion had not been remitted by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to the Federal purse ended in deadlock last night.

The meeting, which was summoned on the orders of the Presidency following a strong letter by Sanusi to President Goodluck Jonathan to probe the missing sum, started at about midday and did not end until about 8pm.

It was presided over by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mr. Dandali Kifasi and attended by officials from the Central Bank of Nigeria, Ministries of Finance and Petroleum, Federal Inland Revenue Service and the NNPC and some presidential aides.

Vanguard learnt that the meeting was characterised by heated arguments between officials of the CBN on one hand and those of the NNPC and its subsidiaries, who are involved in oil production and sales for Nigeria.

CBN, it was learnt, had presented data, which it claimed emanated from the NNPC subsidiary and insisted that the missing amount had not been remitted to the Federation Account, a claim that infuriated NNPC officials present.

A source at the meeting hinted that the arguments were so fierce that the Permanent Secretary of the Petroleum Ministry, who presided, had to storm out of the venue in anger but was later persuaded to return.

In a deft move to calm down frayed nerves, the meeting went on break for about an hour and reconvened later in the day but the contentious issue of the actual amount remitted by the NNPC to the Federation Account since the beginning of the year, could not be agreed upon between its officials and those of CBN.

Unable to resolve their differences over what has been generated and remitted, the meeting was called off at about 8p and a decision taken to reconvene today with a view to finding out where the missing link in the lingering faceoff must have occurred.

The NNPC insists that the amount claimed by the CBN is not missing; adding that the economy would have collapsed if the said amount was withheld or withdrawn from the system.

NNPC's Executive Director in charge of Exploration and Production, Eng. Abiye Membere, who addressed the media on Saturday on the issue, insisted that the corporation had paid in full to the CBN the proceeds from oil within the period under review.

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