The Senate, yesterday, mandated its Committees on Power and Public Accounts to investigate the whereabouts of the $650 million balance of the Eurobond that was meant to be with the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
It also mandated the committee to invite the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, to render a detailed account in terms of public funds spent on the Afam Fast Power Project.
The apex legislative chamber urged the committee to investigate and consider summoning the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) and the Nigerian Electricity Bulk Trading Company (NBET) so as to be able to establish the status of the funds.
These resolutions were made by the Red Chamber sequel to a motion brought to the floor of the Chamber by Senator Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi), entitled “Monumental Fraud in the Power Sector”.
While presenting his motion, Melaye noted that sometime in July 2013, the Federal Government raised a total sum of $1 billion through a Eurobond issue.
He said: “The sum of $350 million was taken by the Federal Government out of the proceeds of the July 2013 Eurobond issue and released to Nigeria Electricity Bulk Trading Company (NBET) Plc. as shareholder contribution to shore up its capitalization.”
He said that the sum of $350 million released to NBET was to demonstrate NBET’s preparedness to assume its role as a government backed electricity bulk trader to provide market confidence in the privatised electricity market.
“As confidence building measure, the $350 million was domiciled with the NSIA for reinvestment in low risk investment and structured in a manner that NBET can call for funds at short notice when required,” Melaye said.
He said the fund had been with NSlA since 2014 and had helped build market confidence, especially among new investors in the electricity market who saw NBET’s positive balance sheet as a form of security that their investments were safe.
He said there was now a desperate attempt by the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing to retrieve the fund and divert same to fund the so-called Afam Fast Power Projects.
“The ministry has already spent $35 million of public funds not appropriated by the National Assembly,” Melaye alleged.
In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, mandated the joint Committee of the Public Accounts and Power to carry out the investigation, asking the former to lead the probe.Senate probes alleged $650m fraud in Power Minister.