Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Reps Order Probe Into Alleged N2b, $3.8m Fraud By Banks

The House of Representatives yesterday resolved to probe the alleged loss of over N2 billion and $3.8 million as a result of the non-payment of interest by banks from sale proceeds of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) successor firms. The House resolved to set up a committee to investigate the matter and report back within six weeks. The decision followed the adoption of a motion sponsored by Mr. Chukwuka Onyema (PDP, Anambra) at the plenary presided over by the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara.

Onyema noted that the Electric Power Sector Reform Act of 2005 unbundled PHCN into 18 successor companies, comprising six generation companies, 12 distribution companies and a transmission company. He said: “Following the divestiture of the Federal Government from PHCN through privatisation, the company was divided into separate companies known as Local Electricity Distribution Companies.“The successor companies made payments to the Federal Government through Standard Chartered Bank, Fidelity Bank, Stanbic IBTC, Access Bank, FCMB, Skye Bank, Sterling Bank, Zenith Bank and Unity Bank.”

Onyema noted that the banks, in collaboration with officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria, allegedly diverted the interest of N2 billion and $3.8 million that should have been paid to the Federal Government. The House also resolved to set up a committee to investigate the alleged registration and issuance of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) to underage persons by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The committee has five weeks to submit its report. The decision followed a motion by Johnbull Tiemlong Shekarau (PDP, Plateau). Shekarau noted that Section 12 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010 provides that a person shall be registered as a voter, if such an individual has attained the age of 18 years. He said:

Reports from the social, print and electronic media indicated that there were incidents of underage voters who presented themselves at polling units with PVCs in the recently conducted local government election in Kano State.“The Director of Publicity and Voter Education at INEC, Oluwole Osaze Uzzi, while responding to questions on Africa Independent Television on the matter on February 15, 2018, said the underage voters were registered because the lives of the registration officers were being threatened.”Shekarau described the report as a national embarrassment, a threat to democracy and a danger to the lives of INEC officials. He also warned that the matter could undermine the credibility of forthcoming elections.

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