The Senate, on Tuesday, summoned the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, her Defence counterpart, Mansur Dan-Ali and Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, over an alleged approval of $462 million for the purchase of arms by President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government, without the nod of the National Assembly.
Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided, referred the matter to the Senate committee on Appropriation for further legislative action. He urged the committee to summon the three top government officials and report back within one week.
He said: “You have heard Senator Anyanwu. I think we should refer this matter to the Senate committee on Appropriation to find out the true position of things regarding that. The Appropriation committee should invite the three people to throw more light on this crisis and report within one week.”
In a point of order raised by Senator Samuel Anyanwu, he queried why the Federal Government will dip its hands into the purse of the government, without any approval by the National Assembly, as required by law.
Relying on Section 80 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, which deals with powers and control over public funds, Anyanwu called for a probe.
Section 80, subsection 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the Constitution, reads: “All revenues or other moneys raised or received by the Federation (not being revenues or other moneys payable under this Constitution or any Act of the National Assembly into any other public fund of the Federation established for a specific purpose) shall be paid into and form one Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation.
“No moneys shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation except to meet expenditure that is charged upon the fund by this Constitution or where the issue of those moneys has been authorised by an Appropriation Act, Supplementary Appropriation Act or an Act passed in pursuance of section 81 of this Constitution.
“No moneys shall be withdrawn from any public fund of the Federation, other than the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation, unless the issue of those moneys has been authorised by an Act of the National Assembly.
“No moneys shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly.”
Anyanwu, in his debate, explained: “In March, 2018, from the Federation Account, a whooping sum of $462 million was withdrawn by the Federal Government. It paid to an American firm for the purchase of helicopters called Helicopters Techno Fight.
“This was done without an approval from this Senate and from the National Assembly. I know that there was no time any request was brought here for the approval of such an amount by the Federal Government from the Federation Account.
“As a senator of this country, I want to find out how this thing was done. I will request that we invite the CBN governor, the Ministers of Defence and Finance. They need to tell us how these monies were withdrawn and paid to this American firm without the approval of the Senate.”
Meanwhile, the Senate has passed a motion, approving the transmission of the amended constitution to President Buhari for assent. The transmission is coming more than one month after State Houses of Assembly submitted their report to the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki.
By Ehisuan Odia…
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