Finance commissioners from the 36 states have denied granting approval for withdrawal of $2 billion from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) as claimed by the former minister of finance and coordinating minister of the economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
Okonjo-Iweala last week said that the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) approved the withdrawal of $2 billion from the ECA.
However, the Forum of Commissioners of Finance, a body comprising finance commissioners from the 36 states who are members of the FAAC, in a statement on Tuesday, said it was unaware of such approval, adding that the FAAC does not have power to grant such approval.
“We wish to state unequivocally that the FAAC does not have the authority to approve withdrawals from the ECA and therefore could not have approved the withdrawal of $2 billion from the Excess Crude (Foreign) Account. According to the law setting up FAAC, which pre-dates the ECA, it cannot approve withdrawal and has not done so in the past. If anything, the FAAC, as records of its meetings indicate, had often queried the activities on the ECA, and therefore did not decide on any withdrawal,” the statement reads in part.
The commissioners stated that “indeed, the FAAC noted and observed accordingly the withdrawal from the ECA of a total of $2 billion in December.
“The then minister of finance and chairman of the FAAC when asked during the plenary of the FAAC meetings of the respective months explained that the former president gave approval for the withdrawals from the ECA to pay oil marketers’ subsidy claims as they had threatened to stop importing petroleum products. According to her, he further explained that this action will be ratified by NEC.”