Senate Summons Fashola Over Alleged $35m Unapproved Expenditure

According to a Punch Metro report, the Senate on Wednesday began an investigation into the alleged plan by the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing to secure the release of $350m domiciled with the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority to finance electricity projects.

The lawmakers specifically criticised the ministry for allegedly spending $35m out of the money on power projects without approval by the National Assembly.

Punch Metro reports that the decision followed the adoption of a motion by Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi-West), at the plenary on Wednesday, entitled, ‘Monumental Fraud in the Power Sector.’

Granting a prayer of the motion, the Senate mandated its Senate Committees on Power and Public Accounts to invite the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN) “to render a detailed account in terms of public funds spent on the Fast Power Projects (Afam Fast Power Project in particular); evidence of feasibility study indicating the viability of the projects; requisite appropriation by the National Assembly as required by the Constitution; and the controversial presidential approval for the projects.”

Another prayer was also granted to mandate same committees “to investigate and consider summoning the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, the Nigerian Electricity Bulk Trading Company, etc., to generally establish the status of the funds ($350m) and to report back to the Senate within two weeks.”

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The Senate also unanimously granted the prayer to “direct the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing to stop or suspend all attempts or efforts to pressurise NSIA to release the sum of $350m meant for NBET to the ministry for use on the controversial fast power projects.”

President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, in his remarks, noted that the issues had previously been raised concerning the power sector in the chamber.

He also noted that the law establishing the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority was due for a review.

“It is not having proper oversight. First, I am told that they don’t require any confirmation for their appointment by the Senate; there is no report to the Senate; and this is an organisation that is controlling over $1.5bn and a lot of monies are being sent there; and it is growing everyday with no oversight at all.

I think there is the need for relevant committees to duly carry out a diligent investigation on the activities of the NSIA,” Saraki said.

Saraki’s suggestion on the review of the NSIA Establishment Act was presented as an additional prayer and it was unanimously granted.

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