Lagos Lawyer, Femi Falana, has asked the former Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to accept guilt on the unauthorised withdrawal of the sum of $2billion she made from the Excess Crude Account while tendering apologies to Nigerians for doing so.
Femi Falana took the former Minister to task on the issue, stating that the contradictory statements she made in her defence on the withdrawal of the sum had given her out as a guilty party.
Falana made this known in a statement he issued in support of the position taken by the governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole with allegation that Okonjo Iweala unilaterally withdrew $2 from the Excess Crude Account.
Oshimhole had alleged that the former super minister in the cabinet of former President Goodluck Jonathan used part of the money to fund the presidential campaign of Jonathan.
Okonjo-Iweala initially said the claim was “totally without foundation” as the decision to spend the money was discussed with states’ finance commissioners.
The former minister, however changed the tone of her defence, after the Commissioners had denied given such approval, stating that former President Jonathan authorised the withdrawal and spending of the sum
However, Falana queried the legality of unilaterally withdrawing money from the account, even where it was approved by Mr. Jonathan.
He said, “Assuming without conceding that the release of the whopping sum $2 bn was approved by the president, is Mrs Okonjo-Iweala saying that funds belonging to the three tiers of Government could be unilaterally withdrawn from the ECA by the Federal Government?”
“As the Coordinating Minister of the Economy did she draw the attention of President Jonathan to the illegality of withdrawing funds from the ECA without the approval of the states and the local governments, the co-owners of the fund?”
In spite of the alleged payment of $2 bn for fuel subsidy in December 2014, fuel marketers have continued to embark on strikes over the alleged non-payment of N200 billion subsidy money.
“The claims and counterclaims by the former minister and the fuel marketers’ calls for urgent investigation of the mismanagement of the fuel subsidy regime under the past government by the Buhari Administration with a view to exposing the monumental fraud that has characterized the policy,”
“In 2011, the National Assembly appropriated the sum of N245 bn for fuel subsidy. Without any amendment of the Appropriation Act, 2011 by way of supplementary budget, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala unilaterally paid N2.5 trillion to fuel marketers.
Investigations by the House of Representatives and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission have since confirmed that the bulk of the fund was paid to members of a cabal who did not supply any fuel.”
“Was it the FAAC or President Jonathan that authorized the World Bank expert to engage in the fraudulent payment of over N2 trillion to fake fuel importers?”
He continued, “Having admitted that the withdrawal of the sum of $2 bn by her was authorized by President Jonathan and not by FAAC as she had previously claimed Mrs Okonjo-Iweala ought to apologize to Nigerians.”
“And instead of resorting to shifting blame in this circumstance, the former Minister should stop denying her principal role in the gross mismanagement of the neo-colonial economy of the country.”