The Minister of Petroleum Resources Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, on Wednesday disclosed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has started refunding the $1.48bn unremitted fund into the Federation Account as recommended by an audit firm, PriceWaterHouse Coopers.
She however did not disclose how much has for far been refunded by the corporation.
She also denied reports that she was seeking the assistance of some highly-placed persons in order to escape prosecution for alleged corruption from the incoming administration of the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari.
Alison-Madueke spoke with State House correspondents at the end of the weekly meeting of Federal Executive Council at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
It will be recalled the Federation Account Allocation Committee had on Monday night constituted a committee to find out the reasons for the delay in the refund of the sum.
PriceWaterHouse Coopers had in the report of its forensic audit report of the corporation recommended that the NNPC should refund the amount to the Federation Account.
Alison-Madueke however explained that the unremitted fund was owed by the NPDC for a block that had been assigned from the NNPC to the NPDC.
She said, “The PriceWaterHouse Coopers forensic audit that was done few weeks ago in his recommendation mentioned that $1.48bn was owed by the NPDC for a block that had hitherto been assigned from the NNPC to the NPDC which is its subsidiary.
“They felt that the right process would be that the NPDC will refund that money to the Federation Account. The NPDC has apparently started those refunds and it is also in discussion with the NNPC and the DPR on same. So the refund has actually began.”
While saying that the payment was being done under her directive, she insisted that the sum was not missing but transferred by the NNPC to the NPDC.
The minister also denied media reports that she was reaching out to some prominent Nigerians, including a former military Head of State, Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar (retd.), to seek soft landing from the incoming government.
She said she had in the course of her job as minister met with elder statesmen across the country and wondered why her meeting with Abubakar would be singled out.
The minister said she could not be seeking for a soft landing because she was not aware that she had committed any crime.
She said, “I have not sought such assistance because I am not aware that I have been indicted of any crime that I will need a soft landing.
“Over the last four years, I have many times been unfortunately accused and libelled in so many malicious and vindictive ways.
“I have explained these things and pushed back robustly on these accusations and I have even gone to court on many of them. Yet, they keep being regurgitated.”