The Federal Government has set up a committee to look into the transfer of N14.37bn from the capital account of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority to a private company, Nigeria Special Economic Zones Company.
The Acting Managing-Director of NEPZA, Mr Bitrus Dawuk, confirmed the development during an interview in Abuja on his plans for the agency.
He said the committee which was set up on December 23 was expected to look at some of the issues surrounding the controversial N14.37bn NEPZA fund currently domiciled at the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The transfer of the fund from NEPA account had been a source of controversy in the last one year.
The Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria had in 2019 written a petition to President Muhammadu Buhari, seeking an investigation into the role played by the immediate past Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelamah, in the transfer of the fund.
The association had claimed in the petition that based on its investigation, it was discovered that the company’s real name was Nigeria Sez Investment Company Limited and not Nigeria Special Economic Zones Company.
It claimed that out of the three directors of the company, two were aides to the former minister.
The association also claimed, “This company is fraudulently designed and created to take over the responsibilities of NEPZA, a development that negates the core principles of the current administration’s fight against corruption and fraud.”
Speaking on the development, the NEPZA boss said the committee was made up of seven members out of which three were from NEPZA and four from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.
He said, “The government has set up a committee made up of three from NEPZA and four from the ministry to look into the NEPZA and SZECO issue.
“The committee was set up on the 23rd of December by the government.” To attract investments in the free trade zones, Dawuk said there was a need for an amendment of the Act setting up the agency.
He explained that the Act setting up NEPZA, which was enacted about 27 years ago, should be amended to reflect the current realities in the export processing zones.
He added that it had become imperative for the amendment of the Act to boost business activities at the free trade zones.
Apart from boosting business activities in the free trade zones, he said the amendment of the Act would also help NEPZA to be self-sustaining, to create jobs and generate wealth.
He said, “We need to amend the NEPZA Act to enable us to attract the needed investments for the free trade zones.
“The current Act that set up NEPZA is about 27 years and there are many areas that the Act did not look into.” -Economic Confidential