Mele Kyari, group managing director (GMD) of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), says the withdrawal of $21 billion from the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) dividends account from 1999- 2020 was legal.
Speaking on Thursday at an investigative hearing of the public accounts committee of the house of representatives, Kyari said the withdrawal was supervised by the federal ministry of finance, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and NNPC.
Kyari, represented by Umar Ajiya, the chief financial officer of NNPC, explained that funds from the NLNG dividends account were the federal government’s share of oil revenue distributed among the tiers of government.
“Though the NNPC sits on the board (of NLNG) on behalf of the federal government, proceeds from the investment are managed and disbursed or dispensed or utilised, based on the instruction of the federal government,” he said.
“When I say the federal government, I do not mean NNPC. Ordinarily, it’s the federal ministry of finance that directs the utilisation. We (NNPC) are merely the agents of the federal government.
“All withdrawals (from NLNG dividends fund) were based on approved mandates of the relevant authorities. As far as NNPC is concerned, investments in NLNG were done on behalf of the federal government. I was the treasurer of NLNG, so I was aware of the federal government’s investment in the project,” he added.
Kyari said the federal government, through the NNPC, is the owner of the investment with dividends accrued to the FG, not the federation account.
He emphasised that it was impossible for anyone to illegally withdraw money from the account, adding that Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor, could be invited to prove it.
The committee, chaired by Wole Oke, decided to summon Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance, budget and national planning; Emefiele; and Ahmed Idris, accountant general of the federation to shed light on the utilisation of NLNG fund.