The Senate through its Panel on Public Accounts has ordered the arrest of the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Bashir Jamoh, for allegedly paying $ 5 million to a legal firm as a professional fee for the recovery of a $9.3billion loss.
The $5million was paid for the intelligence-based tracking of a global movement of Nigerian hydrocarbon and recovery of loss by the Federal Government of Nigeria in the sum of $9.3billion between 2013 and 2014.
The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Matthew Urhogbide, at a briefing on Sunday, expressed sadness over the failure of NIMASA to appear before the panel, saying that the panel had no other option than to issue a warrant of arrest on the DG of NIMASA.
He said, “We have invited NIMASA up to three times, but they have failed to honour our invitations. This committee has no other option than to issue a warrant of arrest against the Director General of the agency. They can come to the National Assembly for fund appropriation, but when it is time to give account, they will be nowhere to be found.
“The committee had invited NIMASA up to three times for the explanation on the payment of $5 million as professional fee and details of $9.3bn loss by the Federal government, but the agency declined the invitation.”
It was gathered that all efforts by the Auditor General of the Federation (AuGF) to get the details of the $9.3billion loss by the Federal government for thorough scrutiny were not granted by NIMASA.
According to AuGF report, the money was paid from Zenith Bank (UK)’s dollar account.
The query read: “Audit observed that the agency engaged the service of a legal firm through a letter with reference number NIMASA/DG/KP/2014/001, dated 24th January 2014 for the intelligence-based tracking of a global movement of Nigerian Hydro-Carbon and recovery of loss by the Federal Government of Nigeria in the sum of $9.3bn between 2013 and 2014, with a start-off cost of $5m and five per cent of all sums recovered.
“Payment instruction with reference number NIMASA/2007/DFS/WJ/5.500/VOL.11/341 dated April 2014 showed that the firm was paid the sum of $4,523,809.52 (Four million five hundred and twenty-three thousand eight hundred and nine dollars fifty-two cents only) net as professional fees from Zenith Bank (UK) Dollar account.
“The Director-General is required to justify the payment for service not rendered, failing which the sum of N741,904,761.28 should be recovered from the legal firm and paid into the CRF, forwarding evidence of payment to the Public Account Committees of the National Assembly and to the Office of Auditor-General for the Federation for verification.
“Sanctions stated in FR 3104 should apply. He is also required to provide details of the transaction(s) leading to the loss of 9.3 billion US Dollars for thorough scrutiny”.
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