The Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, has faulted the Central Bank of Nigeria over its patronage of private law firms in matters between government establishments.
Adoke stated this on Thursday when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Finance to give his opinion on the monetary transactions of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation in its remittances between 2012 and 2013.
He described the hiring the services of private lawyers to interpret a matter related to constitutional provisions by former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, as “irregular”.
Adoke added: “The resort by the CBN governor to get paid legal opinion from private counsel on the interpretation and application of the enabling statutes of government wholly-owned corporations is irregular.
“It is a deliberate attempt to whittle down the powers of the Attorney-General of the Federation as the Chief Law Officer of the Federation as enshrined in the 1999Constitution.”
The AGF explained that NNPC had the authority to transfer its participating interest in Oil Mining Lease in certain joint venture operations to its subsidiary Nigerian Petroleum Development Company.
He told the committee that the NNPC was empowered by law to keep some part of its revenue for use to “defray” all expenses incurred in the course of its business in the upstream operations.
Adoke said: “Consequently, what NNPC is required to pay into the Federation Account is the net revenue as opposed to gross revenue.
“It is my considered view that the provision of Section 162 of Federation Account does not preclude the deduction of NNPC’s expenditure or cost of business.
“This is more so as the federating units do not contribute to the funding of upstream petroleum operations of the NNPC and its subsidiary.”
Adoke pleaded for time to enable him study and form an opinion on whether due process was followed by the NNPC in engaging strategic partners for the funding and operation of the oil blocks assigned to it by NNPC.