As reported by the Punch newspaper, the Senate has directed Okechukwu Enelemah, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, and Terhemba Nongo, the acting Managing Director of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), to return N14.3 billion to the federal government.
In a letter containing the demand was written by the Chairman of Senate Committee on Trade and Investment, Mohammed Sabo (APC, Jigawa South-West).
The money was diverted from the 2017 budget of NEPZA, the senate mentioned.
Mr Sabo in the letter urged the minister and the NEPZA boss to either refund the money immediately or be prepared to face dire consequences.
The money was transferred from NEPZA’s account into the account of a private company, the Nigerian Special Economic Zone Company, the lawmakers told journalists.
He said further that having ignored an earlier warning not to transfer the money, the money was “hurriedly” transferred between April 8 and 10.
Mr Sabo also said that, the money moved into the private firm’s account after been lodged in NEPZA’s account domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria from 2017 budget allocations.
“To prevent this fraud, my committee wrote a letter to the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, on April 8, asking him not to release the money.
“But we have confirmed that the money has been released and transfered by NEPZA, in collaboration with the minister, into a private company’s account.
“This is unacceptable to us. Hence, we have directed that money be returned,” Punch quoted him saying.
PREMIUM TIMES was told by the minister when contacted, that his office “will send out a press release soon.”
The letter dated April 25 read: “Re: Transfer of N14.3bn from NEPZA Account to Nigeria Special Economic Zone Company.”
“Pursuant to Section 80(2)(3) and (4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended and Financial Regulation, sections 313 and 314 and Senate Standing Order 98, 14(a-s) of 2015 as amended, we hereby write to you on the above matter.
“That you should return the N14.3bn that was transferred from NEPZA’s account to the Nigeria Special Economic Zone Company’s account.
“That the transferred money must be returned to the treasury within one week from the date of receipt of this letter.
“The available information shows that the said money is in the account of the Nigerian Special Economic Zone Company unappropriated for.
“That failure to comply with this directive will be visited with appropriate legislative action against your ministry as well as the company.”