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Alleged N15bn fraud rocks NEPZA, Senate queries MD

Senate Committee on Trade and Investment on Thursday summoned the Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr. Niyi Adebayo and the Acting Managing Director of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Terhembe Nongo.

The summon followed the alleged diversion of over N15 billion to a private company in the ministry’s 2017 budget.

Presenting the report of the committee to the Senate committee on Appropriations, the Chairman Senate on Trade and Investment, Senator Rose Oko, explained that the Ministry and agency could not justify the transaction.

It would be recalled that when the permanent secretary of the ministry appeared for budget defence, he maintained that the ministry was not part of the questionable deal.

The agency on the other hand said the money was allocated to NEPZA but the company was not existing in 2017, Oko stated.

She had directed NEPZA to provide details of what happened.

The Chairman explained that money was released in 2017 to the company even when it was not yet registered in the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

Oko informed that the report from the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami detailing the shareholding structure did not disclose the identity of the shareholders.

“The company was registered in 2018; meanwhile the money was already allocated in 2017, which is domiciled in CBN. More so, N15billion was released two days ago to the same company”, she said.

Reacting to this, the Chairman of the Appropriation Committee, Senator Barau Jibrin, said he will invite the Minister, the ministry’s permanent secretary and Managing Director of NEPZA.

They are to appear before the Appropriations committee on Monday to clarify the issue.

It could be recalled that the 8th Senate also looked into similar issue, directing the acting Managing Director of NEPZA to refund the federal government.

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