Diezani denies withdrawing $1.3Bn from NNPC accounts

Former petroleum minister, Mrs. Diezani Allison-mature, has blasted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for displaying lack of understanding of the constitutional powers of a Nigerian President in managing funds meant for security/intelligence agencies.

Speaking in a press statement made available to journalists in Abuja Thursday, in which she denied withdrawing $1.3b from accounts of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as alleged in a newspaper story titled: “Diezani In Trouble Again Over Withdrawal Of N1.3b From NNPC Accounts”, the ex-minister said she had nothing to do with the withdrawal.

The statement which was signed by her Media Adviser, Mr. Clem Aguiyi, also sought to clarify the process for release of funds requested by Security/Intelligence agencies in Nigeria.

She said “under Section 5 of the Constitution all executive powers are vested in the President who may exercise it directly or through the Vice President or Ministers of the Federation” adding that as Minister for Petroleum Resources., she was an appointee and delegate of the President.

“Consequently, on the issue in question the Minister of Petroleum Resources acted on the basis of the written approvals and directives given by the President, which approvals were given after written requests from the relevant security agencies were made to the President.

“At such instances, as in fact the article clearly shows, a Service Chief or Intelligence Chief, makes a written request/appeal to Mr President outlining whatever urgent and critical security needs of the nation they consider imminently paramount, at any given point in time.

“If such a request received the approval of the President, the President may direct that the requested funds be drawn from a Security Budget maintained by NNPC, or that the funds be sourced from elsewhere.

“Where the President directs the Minister of Petroleum Resources, in writing, to make the payment from the NNPC, the Minister in turn, directs the GMD NNPC in writing to execute the directive of the President. NNPC then wires the funds from one of its major foreign bank accounts, or from the CBN, directly to the stipulated account of the particular branch of the armed services, or intelligence unit, or department, that initiated the request. It is not within the powers or discretion of any Minister to question, flout or disregard the written directives of the President. including that of the incumbent President.”

The former minister maintained, in the statement, that at no time, did she, or could she, as the Minister of Petroleum Resources, interfere with this process.

“It is therefore, impossible and implausible, for any monies under such presidential directives to be diverted during the process, at least from the standpoint of the Minister. Any and all amounts approved and directed by Mr. President to be paid, were executed exclusively by NNPC, directly from NNPC’s foreign and or, Central Bank of Nigeria accounts, to the stated recipients.

“Therefore, let it be very clear, that all funds disbursed by these banking institutions on behalf of NNPC are easily and openly traceable, and the process cannot and should not be utilized for the distortion of facts, vendetta or political mischief”, the statement concluded.

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