Reps investigate CBN, Finance Ministry over $500 million NESS fund

The House of Representatives is set to investigate the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for allegedly spending over $500 million from Nigeria Export Supervision Scheme Fund (NESS). The House took the decision after adopting a “Motion of Urgent Public Importance” sponsored by Abdullahi Sa’ad Abdulkadir (APC, Bauchi) on the floor of the House on Tuesday.

Abdulkadir, who is the Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts said the need for the investigation and audit of the NESS was based on the discoveries in the Joint rendition of account to the Auditor General of the Federation by the Ministry of Finance and the CBN. He therefore argued that both the Ministry of Finance and the CBN should also be investigated over another alleged extra-budgetary spending of about N700 billion from the same fund. He said the spendings by the duo contravenes section 80 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which stated that such funds must be appropriated before they are utilised by any government organ. According to him, the Fund is exempted from being remitted into the Consolidated Revenue Fund, however, “section 80(4) of the Constitution requires that spending from such Special Fund should be done only through appropriation by the National Assembly.

Speaking on how the NESS Fund came to be, the Lawmaker explained that, the Pre-Shipment Act requires the payment of a pre-shipment inspection levy, which will be paid into a special fund from which the remuneration, fees and other charges of the inspection Agents are to be defrayed. in addition, section 14(3) “of the Act requires that any balance remaining in the special fund is to be used for funding the pre-shipment inspection programme. The House adopted the Motion and directed its Committee on Public Account to carry out the investigation and report back within four weeks.

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