Home NEWS N42.09b alleged fraud: Why ex-Trade Minister, Enelamah not re-appointed
N42.09b alleged fraud: Why ex-Trade Minister,   Enelamah not re-appointed

N42.09b alleged fraud: Why ex-Trade Minister, Enelamah not re-appointed

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The Senate, a month ago, ordered the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Ikechukwu Enelamah to urgently return the sum of N14.3 billion, an amount he facilitated its transfer to a private company.

In 2017, N42.09 billion was approved by the National Assembly and signed by President Muhammadu Buhari for the creation and management of Special Economic Zones in some States, by the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA),

The proposal for the funding and management of the “Special Economic Zones” for the purpose of project Made- In- Nigeria Exports (MINE), was conceptualized by erstwhile Managing Director of NEPZA, Barr. Emmanuel Jime.

But the Minister, according to findings, hurriedly set up the Nigeria SEZ Company Limited (NSEZCO) a private firm with some of the Minister’s personal assistants as directors, to manage the funds, in violation of the mandate of NEPZA, as enshrined in the Act setting the government entity up and the Appropriations Acts of 2017 and 2018.

Two of the Directors of the private firm are Mr. Femi Edun, Enelamah’s Special Assistant on Special Economic Zones and Ms. Oluwadara Owoyemi, his Special Assistant on Investment

On April 1, this year, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade and Industry, Sen. Sabo Muhammed Nakudu (APC-Jigawa), had accused the Minister of trying to divert “N42.09billion of public funds to a private company” run by his fronts.

The Minister though claimed the company was set up by the federal government, he failed to name its shareholders.

But, a document obtained from the Corporate Affairs Commission and made available to the reporter by Sen. Nakudu, names some of the Minister’s aides as directors in the said company.

The Committee also found that the name of the said company, as submitted to the Senate Committee, was in dissonance with the name registered by the CAC.

The Minister had told the Committee that the private usurper-company’s name was Nigeria Special Economic Zones Company, but the registered name at CAC is however, Nigeria SEZ Investment Company.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade and Industry in an interview with the reporter, insisted that “The private company is unknown to both law and the Nigerian public, and as far as the parliament is concerned, NEPZA is in charge of Economic Zones in the country by any name so called”.

NEPZA was established on November 17, 1992, by Decree No. 63, but adopted as an Act of the National Assembly.

The salient powers of NEPZA are captured in sections 1, 2, 3 and 4, giving it powers over Economic Processing Zones or even “Special Zones”.

Section of 1(1) the NEPZA Act states “The President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces may, from time to time by order, upon the recommendation of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority established under this Decree, designate such area as he thinks fit to be an export processing zone, (in this Decree referred to as “a Zone”).

According to section “(2) The Zone established pursuant to subsection (1) of this section, may be operated and managed by a public, private or a combination of public and private entity under the supervision of and with the approval of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority established by section 2 of this Decree”.

Section 3 of the Act, even gives NEPZA the unassailable powers to call economic zones by whatever name.

According to section 3, “Every order made pursuant to subsection (1) of this section, shall specify the limits of the area designated and ascribe a name to that Zone. (4) The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority may, from time to time, by order, amend, vary or add to the limits of a Zone or change the name of a Zone”.

Extant provisions of the NEPZA Act giving the agency unequivocal powers over trade zones notwithstanding, the Minister connived with an Acting Managing Director of NEPZA Engineer T.D. Nongo, the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), the Ministry of Finance, the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation and the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) to effect a transfer of N14.3billion, being a part of the over N42billion earmarked in the 2017 band 2018 Appropriation Acts, for a three-phase Special Economic zones intervention and the Project MINE.

Before he took his leave from the agency in January this year, the erstwhile MD of the agency, Barr. Emmanuel Jime, had waded into the controversy, seeking the AGF’s legal advice on Enelamah’s push to transfer NEPZA funds to a private company.

Hon. Jime had queried the illegal proposal, pointing to its clear breach of the Constitution and the NEPZA Act, but by February, shortly after he left NEPZA to contest for the Governor of Benue State, on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Acting MD, Engr. Nongo issued a letter dated February 13th , 2019 to the Minister of Finance, giving the company’s approval for the transfer of N14.3billion to the private company run by the Minister’s personal staff, in breach of the Appropriations and NEPZA Acts.

In response to the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation’s request , the Central Bank of Nigeria, had also on the 26th of March, 2019 confirmed a transfer of N14,376,027,584,65 to the private firm, with Enelamah’s aides as Directors.

Though the AGF had in his response from NEPZA for legal advice, agreed saying “Clearly, NEPZA is a self-regulating statutory entity. It is empowered to administer itself. The management of all the Export Processing Zones(EPZs) by NEPZA is not directly in issue in the two(2) questions posed to the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation by NEPZA”, he subsequently provided cover for the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment to effect the transfer of the NEPZA funds to a private entity.

Meanwhile the Senate Committee on Industry and Trade, has vowed to get to the bottom of the alleged fraud, insisting that the transfer was unlawful and fraudulently done.

In 2017, the National Assembly appropriated N49bn for Ministry of Trade. NEPZA accessed 29bn out of

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Ikechukwu Enelamah has facilitated the transfer of N42.09 billion approved by the National Assembly last year and signed by President Muhammadu Buhari for the creation and management of Special Economic Zones in some States by the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), to the account of a private company run by his personal aides, investigations have have revealed.

The proposal for the funding and management of the “Special Economic Zones” for the purpose of project Made- In- Nigeria Exports (MINE), was conceptualized by erstwhile Managing Director of NEPZA, Barr. Emmanuel Jime.
But the Minister, according to findings, hurriedly set up the Nigeria SEZ Company Limited (NSEZCO) a private firm with some of the Minister’s personal assistants as directors, to manage the funds, in violation of the mandate of NEPZA, as enshrined in the Act setting the government entity up and the Appropriations Acts of 2017 and 2018.

Two of the Directors of the private firm are Mr. Femi Edun, Enelamah’s Special Assistant on Special Economic Zones and Ms. Oluwadara Owoyemi, his Special Assistant on Investment

On April 1, this year, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade and Industry, Sen. Sabo Muhammed Nakudu (APC-Jigawa), had accused the Minister of trying to divert “N42.09billion of public funds to a private company” run by his fronts.
The Minister though claimed the company was set up by the federal government, he failed to name its shareholders.

But, a document obtained from the Corporate Affairs Commission and made available to the reporter by Sen. Nakudu, names some of the Minister’s aides as directors in the said company.

The Committee also found that the name of the said company, as submitted to the Senate Committee, was in dissonance with the name registered by the CAC.
The Minister had told the Committee that the private usurper-company’s name was Nigeria Special Economic Zones Company, but the registered name at CAC is however, Nigeria SEZ Investment Company.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade and Industry in an interview with the reporter, insisted that “The private company is unknown to both law and the Nigerian public, and as far as the parliament is concerned, NEPZA is in charge of Economic Zones in the country by any name so called”.

NEPZA was established on November 17, 1992, by Decree No. 63, but adopted as an Act of the National Assembly.

The salient powers of NEPZA are captured in sections 1, 2, 3 and 4, giving it powers over Economic Processing Zones or even “Special Zones”.

Section of 1(1) the NEPZA Act states “The President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces may, from time to time by order, upon the recommendation of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority established under this Decree, designate such area as he thinks fit to be an export processing zone, (in this Decree referred to as “a Zone”).

According to section “(2) The Zone established pursuant to subsection (1) of this section, may be operated and managed by a public, private or a combination of public and private entity under the supervision of and with the approval of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority established by section 2 of this Decree”.

Section 3 of the Act, even gives NEPZA the unassailable powers to call economic zones by whatever name.

According to section 3, “Every order made pursuant to subsection (1) of this section, shall specify the limits of the area designated and ascribe a name to that Zone. (4) The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority may, from time to time, by order, amend, vary or add to the limits of a Zone or change the name of a Zone”.
Extant provisions of the NEPZA Act giving the agency unequivocal powers over trade zones notwithstanding, the Minister connived with an Acting Managing Director of NEPZA Engineer T.D. Nongo, the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), the Ministry of Finance, the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation and the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) to effect a transfer of N14.3billion, being a part of the over N42billion earmarked in the 2017 band 2018 Appropriation Acts, for a three-phase Special Economic zones intervention and the Project MINE.

Before he took his leave from the agency in January this year, the erstwhile MD of the agency, Barr. Emmanuel Jime, had waded into the controversy, seeking the AGF’s legal advice on Enelamah’s push to transfer NEPZA funds to a private company.

Hon. Jime had queried the illegal proposal, pointing to its clear breach of the Constitution and the NEPZA Act, but by February, shortly after he left NEPZA to contest for the Governor of Benue State, on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Acting MD, Engr. Nongo issued a letter dated February 13th , 2019 to the Minister of Finance, giving the company’s approval for the transfer of N14.3billion to the private company run by the Minister’s personal staff, in breach of the Appropriations and NEPZA Acts.

In response to the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation’s request , the Central Bank of Nigeria, had also on the 26th of March, 2019 confirmed a transfer of N14,376,027,584,65 to the private firm, with Enelamah’s aides as Directors.

Though the AGF had in his response from NEPZA for legal advice, agreed saying “Clearly, NEPZA is a self-regulating statutory entity. It is empowered to administer itself. The management of all the Export Processing Zones(EPZs) by NEPZA is not directly in issue in the two(2) questions posed to the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation by NEPZA”, he subsequently provided cover for the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment to effect the transfer of the NEPZA funds to a private entity.

Meanwhile the Senate Committee on Industry and Trade, has vowed to get to the bottom of the alleged fraud, insisting that the transfer was unlawful and fraudulently done.

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