There was a new twist to the N19.7bn Police Equipment Fund on Tuesday as the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, denied that the police received the money from suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Lamido Sanusi.
Sanusi, while defending allegations of financial recklessness levelled against him by the Financial Reporting Council, had listed the N19.7bn among funds he released to the Ministry of Police Affairs to procure a helicopter and other equipment.
However, the police high command, which appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts in Abuja, denied knowledge of the money.
The Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of Air Wing, Mr. Ilesanmi Aguda, who stood in for Abubakar, simply replied “no knowledge” when the committee sought to confirm the payment.
Although, he advised the committee to refer the inquiry to the Ministry of Police Affairs, the Chairman of the committee, Mr. Adeola Olamilekan, informed his colleagues that the said ministry had earlier denied the payment.
Olamilekan expressed surprise over the development, noting that it would appear that the money was missing since the supposed recipients had denied knowledge of it.
He stated, ”If the IGP and the police ministry deny receipt of the said N19.7bn, then the committee can rightly assume that the money is missing, until proven otherwise.
“All the major actors involved in the alleged transaction including the CBN have a case to answer.”
In ruling on the controversial N19.7bn, the committee said it would summon Sanusi and the IG in person to hear from them again before taking a final position.
The suspended CBN governor had stated in his defence that he paid out billions of Naira on the instruction of President Goodluck Jonathan.
On the N19.7bn, he had said, “Consistent with our policy of development, upon the instruction of His Excellency, the President, the CBN intervened by paying N19.7bn to the Ministry of Police Affairs for the purchase of armoured helicopters and other security equipment.”
In a separate case, the committee summoned the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Jonah Otunla; the Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, Dr. Bright Okogu; and the CBN to explain the whereabouts of the N59.6bn released as subsidy claims for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
While the budget office claimed to have paid the money to the NNPC, the corporation denied receiving it.
The committee acknowledged submissions by the NNPC, which indicated that the corporation did not receive the N59.6bn.
For it to dig into the matter further, the committee directed the corporation to write a formal letter denying that it received the money.
Ruling on the issue, the committee chairman said, “You (NNPC) will do us a formal letter explaining to the committee that at no time you received N59.6bn but, Deliotte Accounting Firm, in its report claimed the fund was disbursed.
“Towards this direction, this committee hereby summons the CBN, AGF and budget office to explain why such sum of money was disbursed without any documentary evidence.
“NNPC for now cannot be indicted until otherwise proven when AGF and budget office come out with evidence that the money was disbursed and cash backed. ”