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2019 Budget: Senate Uncovers N42 billion fraud by Ministry of Trade and Investment.

The Senate Committee on Trade and Investment chair by Senator Sabo  Mohammed on Monday has uncovered a N42 billion misappropriation from  the 2019 budget proposals  by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.

This was revealed when an illegal company, Special Economic Zone Company listed for N42 billion popped up during the presentation of 2018 performance leading to rejection  of N15, 633 billion 2019 budget proposals.

Informavores gathered that the Chairman of the Committee Senator Sabo  Mohammed, APC member, representing Jigawa North West pointed the attention of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelama to item number 2 on page 7 which has N42. 091 billion budgetary allocation for Nigeria Special Economic Zone Company not known to be one of the 17 agencies under the Ministry .

The Minister in his response said “the exercise was established through Presidential initiative and approval given it at Cabinet meeting in May 2018” .

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“private partnership is one of the areas that this government is focused for infrastructure, and the second area is industrialization and the two have something in common.” , Dr Okechukwu Enelama continued.

“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. ”

Meanwhile, According to the document containing information on the establishment of the company as obtained from Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) by Chairman of the Committee, the company was registered as Nigeria Sez Investment Company Limited and not Nigeria Special Economic Zone Company listed the documents presented by the Minister .

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He said, “Ownership of the company as clearly  stated in the document obtained from CAC on the 26th of last month designated as Directors are Dr Bakari Wadinga , Mr Olufemi Edun and Ms Oluwadara Owoyemi .

“The document clearly States that the company is a private company and that liability of the members are limited by share which as also shown, gives federal government 25% and 75% to the private individuals ” he continued .

Despite the effort of Dr Enelama to convince the chairman and other members of the committee that the initiative was driven by the federal government, they all declared that the process of putting it up “is misnomer and nothing but financial ambush to the Nigeria “.

The committee subsequently instructed the embattled Minister to forward detailed written explanation on how the company crept into appropriation list.

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It also directed him to forward its management staff, list of its staff strength and statement of account as pre-requisite for consideration of the 2019 budget proposals .

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