- 2019 Budget: Senate Exposes N42bn Fraud by Ministry of Trade and Investment
One of the series of allegations surrounding the N8.08 trillion 2019 proposed budget was exposed on Monday when the Senate Appropriation Committee on Trade and Investment uncovered N42 billion allocated to a fake private company in the 2019 budget by the Ministry of Trade and Investment.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee, Senator Sabo Mohammed from Jigawa Northwest, called the attention of Dr Okechukwu Enelamah, the Minister of Trade and Investment, who appeared before the Senate Committee to defend the Ministry’s 2019 budget, to N42 billion allocated to the Nigeria Special Economic Zone Company, according to the Chairman the company is fake.
Dr Okechukwu Enelamah claimed the said private company was established through a Presidential initiative and was approved during a cabinet meeting in May 2018.
Enelamah stated: “One of the areas that this government has focused on is infrastructure. The second area is industrialisation and the two have something in common.”
“If the government tries to do it alone, it would be extremely tasking. So the President directed that we should bring other partners that can combine with whatever monies we have to build world-class infrastructure which led to the establishment of the company in partnership with other investors.”
Following Enelamah’s presentation, Senator Sabo once again referred the minister to item 2 on page 7 of the proposed budget, which contained the N42.091 billion allocated to the Nigeria Special Economic Zone, a company that does not exist.
He reportedly presented a document obtained from the Corporate Affair Commission (CAC) which showed the actual company’s name is Nigeria Sez Investment Company Limited as against the Nigeria Special Economic Zone that was written in the proposed budget presented by the ministry.
Nigeria Sez Investment Company Limited, according to the CAC document as read by Senator Sabo, listed Dr. Bakari Wadinga, Mr. Olufemi Edun and Ms. Olwadara Owoyemi as directors.
The document also states that the company is a private company and liability of the members are limited by share which gives Federal Government 25 per cent and 75 per cent to the private individuals.
Efforts by the Minister to convince the Committee that the initiative was driven by the government didn’t yield result as the Committee stood its ground and described the process as a financial ambush on the nation.
The Committee, therefore, directed the Minister to forward the details on how the fake company got into the 2019 appropriation list. Enelamah was also asked to present information regarding the company’s supposed management staff, list of staff strength and account statement.