Former Minister of Petroleum Resources Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke yesterday said she acted on the instructions of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan in directing the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to release $1.3billion to the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).
She said it was not within the power or discretion of any minister to question or disregard the written directive of a president.
The ex-minister made the clarifications through a statement by her Media Adviser, Mr. Clem Aguiyi, against the backdrop of the ongoing probe of the withdrawal of $1.3billion from the accounts of NNPC to fight kidnapping and other security threats in the Niger Delta.
Although about $1.4billion was requested by the Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA) via three memos, for “Intervention for Urgent National Security Projects”, about $1.3billion was released from NNPC’s accounts.
But it was unclear what became of the $100million balance as at press time.
ONSA requested for $1.4billion between March 27, 2014 and May 5, 2014 when approval was given and cash-backed.
Three memos were sent to Dr. Jonathan on March 27, 2014, 31st March 2014 and May 5, 2014.
Mrs. Alison-Madueke stressed that she could not be held liable for carrying out a presidential directive.
The statement said: “The attention of Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, the former Minister of Petroleum, has been drawn to a story in The Nation Newspaper of Monday 22nd January, 2018 as well as other print and online media titled “Diezani in trouble again over withdrawal of $1.3b from NNPC accounts”.
“Under Section 5 of the Constitution, all executive powers are vested in the President who may exercise it directly or through the Vice President or Ministers of the Federation. As Minister for Petroleum Resources Mrs. Alison-Madueke was an appointee and delegate of the President.
“Consequently, the Minister of Petroleum Resources acted on the basis of the written approvals and directives given by the President, which approvals were given after written requests from the relevant security agencies were made to the President.
“At such instances, as in fact the article clearly shows, a Service Chief or Intelligence Chief makes a written request/appeal to Mr. President, outlining whatever urgent and critical security needs of the nation they consider imminently paramount, at any given point in time.
“If such a request received the approval of the President, the President may direct that the requested funds be drawn from a Security Budget maintained by NNPC, or that the funds be sourced from elsewhere.
“Where the President directs the Minister of Petroleum Resources, in writing, to make the payment from the NNPC, the Minister, in turn, directs the GMD NNPC in writing to execute the directive of the President. NNPC then wires the funds from one of its major foreign bank accounts, or from the CBN, directly to the stipulated account of the particular branch of the armed services, or intelligence unit, or department, that initiated the request.
“It is not within the power or discretion of any serving minister to question or disregard the written directive of a president including that of the incumbent President”
The former Minister stated that at no time, did she, or could she, as the Minister of Petroleum Resources, interfere with this process.
Mrs. Alison-Madueke said since the disbursement of $1.3billion was traceable, it was wrong to assume that it was diverted.
“It is, therefore, impossible and implausible, for any monies under such presidential directives to be diverted during the process, at least from the standpoint of the minister.
“Any and all amounts approved and directed by Mr. President to be paid, were executed exclusively by NNPC, directly from NNPC’s foreign and or, Central Bank of Nigeria accounts, to the stated recipients.
“Therefore, let it be very clear, that all funds disbursed by these banking institutions on behalf of NNPC are easily and openly traceable, and the process cannot and should not be utilised for the distortion of facts,” the statement said.