The National Economic Council’s ad hoc committee on the management of the Excess Crude Account proceeds and accruals into the Federation Account has recommended that two international accounting firms be contracted to carry out a forensic audit of the accounts and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

The committee is made up of the governors of Edo State, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole; Gombe, Ibrahim Dankwaabo; AkwaIbom, Emmanuel Udom; Lagos, Akinwunmi Ambode; and Kaduna, Nasir el-Rufai.

The committee at its inaugural meeting on Thursday met with representatives of revenue generating agencies such as the Nigeria Customs Service, Securities and Exchange Commission and the Central Bank of Nigeria, as well as the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission.

Other agencies whose representatives appeared before the committee were the Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, Federal Ministry of Finance, Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation and the Federal Inland Revenue Service.

Addressing journalists shortly after the meeting, which lasted for over seven hours, Oshiomhole, who is also the Chairman of the committee, said it decided to engage the services of the two accounting firms in order to thoroughly investigate how proceeds into the account were managed.He said the committee would be meeting with the other revenue generating agencies in the petroleum industry next Thursday to get their inputs on how much was earned and remitted into the Federation Account.

The agencies are the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Department of Petroleum Resources and the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, among others.

The governor stated that the forensic audit would cover a five-year period from January 2010 till June 2015, adding that the period might be extended to cover other previous years should such a need arise.

“Given our mandate, even if we are accountants, because we are city governors, we won’t have all the time to do a forensic audit, which this assignment entails. Therefore, we have agreed in line with our mandate to appoint two reputable international audit firms to carry out a thorough forensic audit, not only of the NNPC, which is much talked about, but actually all the money that accrued to the Federation Account.

“We know now that although people talk of the Excess Crude Account, we have other revenues like bonuses, royalties and taxes, part of which flow into the Federation Account, depending on the budget estimate. So, we are taking a holistic review of the entire process and looking at all the agencies that are supposed to make contributions to fund the Federation Account.

“So, we are convinced that by appointing audit firms, we will allow professionals to carry out this exercise so that it will be free from any political coloration and also will ensure that the outcome of the investigation will command interest and confidence of all the stakeholders and the Nigerian public,” Oshiomhole said.

By Dike Onwuamaeze

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