The Presidency on Tuesday debunked what it called ‘sensational reports’ in the media that President Goodluck Jonathan confirmed in Amsterdam that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, wrongly withheld $10bn from the Federation Account.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, in a statement, described the reports as “completely false and a total distortion” of Jonathan’s comments during his meeting with the Nigerian community in the Netherlands during his visit to the European country.
According to the presidential aide, at no time during the well-attended reception did the president also confirm any irregularities in the state-run NNPC.
The statement read, “Sensational reports in the media to that effect are reckless, mischievous and unprofessional misrepresentations of the President’s restatement to the Nigerian community of the Federal Government’s position on the allegation that $20bn is ‘missing’ from the NNPC or the Federation Account, by reporters who were not at the event or even in Holland at all.
“President Jonathan’s verifiable words while responding to questions from members of the community on the allegation and other domestic issues were clear and unambiguous.
“After asserting that allegation that various sums – $49.8bn, $12bn or $20bn – were missing are inconsistent and lacked credence, the President’s exact words were as follows: ‘As at that time, the Finance Ministry was saying they had not been able to reconcile only 10 billion dollars. There are issues in NNPC but we are on it.’
“President Jonathan went on to say that to reassure Nigerians of his administration’s continued commitment to openness, transparency and probity in the aftermath of the unsubstantiated allegations, the Federal Government had authorised a professional forensic audit of NNPC accounts to clear the air.
“The Presidency deplores the mischievous and unethical distortion of his comments in the media today.
“Once again, we urge the media to show greater regard for truth and accuracy when reporting on the President”, the statement concluded.