By Henry Umoru
ABUJA – STRONG indications have emerged that the Senate may set up an Ad-hoc Committee to investigate the revenue that accrued from the Excess Crude Account, ECA amount above the oil benchmark from 2004 to date and Federal government’s utilization, identifying any infractions committed.
The Senate may also suspend the activities of the Excess Crude Account, ECA forthwith on the grounds that it was alien to the 1999 Constitution as amended if the lawmakers take and deliberate on a proposed motion.
If the motion scales through, the Senate may also request the Executive to act in conformity with sections 80 (1-4) and 162 (1-3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, in its revenue receipt and expenditure; just as the Executive would also be made to Pay the amount above the oil benchmark into the Federation Account in compliance with the Constitution.
The upper chamber is also planning to place the amount in the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) upon the amendment of section 162 of the Constitution and other sectors as deemed appropriate, just as it plans to raise the alarm that ECA increased from $5.16 billion in 2005 to over $20billion in 2008, and decreased to less than $4billion by 2010 with no known tracking of its operations, adding that at various times and from several quarters in 2013, it was purported that $5billion was missing from the ECA, and that $2billion was withdrawn without authorization;
The Senators will also explain that in May 2017, Government announced a resumption of payment into the ECA of $87million ostensibly since May, 2015, arbitrarily, adding that between May, 2015 and August, 2017, about US $122.2million had accrued and ought to have been paid to the ECA.
The lawmakers will also complain that the continued impunity of the ECA and its discretionary operation in contravention of the 1999 Constitution, creating room for imprudence, recklessness and arbitrariness;
The action of the Senate will be contained in a proposed motion by Senator Rose Oko, PDP, Cross River North and would be entitled, “The Excess Crude Account: an Illegality and a Drain Pipe.”
The motion would be co- sponsored by 42 other Senators.
The action of the Senators as gathered would be predicated on the fact the Excess Crude Account (ECA) was set up in 2004, ostensibly to provide savings for the country and stabilization for the economy during periods of shortfalls in oil revenue
Also that the accruals to the ECA was expected to be the amount above the benchmark of crude oil sales, just as it was also worried that the ECA was not in tandem with sections 80 (1-4) and 162 (1-3) of the 1999 Constitution, which prescribes revenue receipts and expenditure.
The senate will also base its argument on the premise that these breaches of the Constitution in setting up and operating the ECA have created room for a pool of funds from revenue accruing to the Federation being operated without legal backing and without any checks and balances, thereby providing loopholes for imprudence and financial recklessness;
The motion was earlier slated for discussions, but the Senate leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan moved that the item be stood down for another legislative day.
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