‘Illegal’ $2bn ECA Withdrawal: Okonjo-Iweala Must Apologise To Nigerians For Lying – Falana

Femi-Falana1

Lagos lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, has implored former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to apologise to Nigerians for admitting that the withdrawal of $2 billion from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) was authorised by President Jonathan and not the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC).
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria also advised the ex-minister to stop denying her role in the mismanagement of the nation’s economy.
Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, had alleged that Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala unilaterally approved the withdrawal of the $2 billion from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) “without authorisation”.
In her response to the governor’s claim, the former minister said it was “false, malicious and totally without foundation”, asserting that the withdrawal of the fund was “approved” by FAAC.
However, the FAAC disowned Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala, which led her to again recant her earlier statement and claim the former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan gave the approval for the withdrawal of the funds.
In denying the mismanagement of the economy, Falana noted that the former coordinating Minister of the Economy said the “payments made were used in paying for petroleum subsidies and were approved by Mr. President”.
He further stated that “Assuming without conceding that the release of the $2 billion was approved by the President, is Mrs Okonjo-Iweala saying funds belonging to the three tiers of government could be unilaterally withdrawn from the ECA by the Federal Government?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 approval of the states and the local governments, the co-owners of the fund?”
Falana said despite the alleged payment of $2 billion for fuel subsidy in December 2014, fuel marketers have continued their strike action over alleged unpaid N200 billion by the Ministry of Finance under Mrs Okonjo-Iweala’s watch.
He said: “In spite of the alleged payment of $2 billion for fuel subsidy in December 2014, fuel marketers have continued to embark on strike over the alleged non-payment of N200 billion by the Ministry of Finance under Mrs Okonjo-Iweala’s watch. The claims and counter-claims by the former minister and fuel marketers call for investigation of the mismanagement of the fuel subsidy regime by the Buhari administration with a view to exposing the monumental fraud that has characterised the policy.
“In 2011, the National Assembly appropriated N245 billion 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 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 authorised the World Bank expert to engage in the fraudulent payment of over N2 trillion to fake fuel importers?
“Having admitted that the withdrawal of the $2 billion by her was authorised by President Jonathan and not by FAAC as she had previously claimed, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala ought to apologise to Nigerians. And instead of resorting to shifting blame in the circumstance, the former minister should stop denying her principal role in the gross mismanagement of the neo-colonial economy of the country”.

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