Prominent human rights activist and Lagos lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) has called for an audit of the Federation Account by the Auditor–General of the Federation following claims and counter-claims between the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, over alleged missing $20 billion crude oil proceeds.
According to Falana, the audit is to be carried out within two weeks; otherwise, he would be forced to apply for an order of mandamus compelling the Auditor-General to act.
In a letter to the Auditor-General dated February 7, the lawyer said following the allegation by the CBN Governor that $20billion had been illegally withheld from the Federation Account by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), there is an urgent need to audit the Federation Account.
The Federation Account is where all monies accruable to the nation are deposited before they are shared among the three tiers of government.
To Falana, considering the claims and counter-claims from Sanusi and the NNPC over what was remitted into the Federation Account, it is evident there is no reliable document to prove what revenues were collected by the Federal Government.
Falana noted that NNPC accounts had been shrouded in secrecy and laid the blame the doorstep of the National Assembly for abdicating its responsibility of scrutinizing the accounts and not passing the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law.
“From the foregoing, you will agree with us that the CBN, which keeps the Federation Account, cannot produce a reliable statement of the Account into which all revenues collected by the Federal Government is paid by the NNPC and other agencies of the government. Hence, Mr. Sanusi has a penchant for giving conflicting figures with respect to the funds in the account”, he said.
Falana urged the Auditor-General to immediately commence the audit of the Federation Account in accordance with Section 85 of the Constitution.
“Since neither the Finance Minister nor the Finance Committee of the Senate is empowered to reconcile conflicting figures pertaining to the finances of the government, we request you to audit the Federation Account – in line with Section 85 of the Constitution”, he wrote to the Auditor-General.
Section 85 of the Constitution states: “The Public Accounts of the Federation and all other offices and courts shall be audited and reported on by the Auditor-General who shall submit his reports to the National Assembly; and for that purpose, the Auditor-General or any person authorised by him in that behalf shall have access to all the books, records, returns and other documents relating to those accounts”.
In Falana’s view, unless the audit is carried out, the public altercation between the CBN and NNPC over the alleged missing money will continue – to the embarrassment of the nation.