Reps summon DMO over alleged breaches in $300m diaspora bond

Director–General of the Debt Management Office (DMO), Patience Oniha

The House of Representatives yesterday summoned the Director General of the Debt Management Office (DMO), Ms. Patience Oniha, over alleged abuses in the subscription of the $300 million Diaspora bond. 

Chairman, House Committee on the Diaspora, Mrs. Rita, explained that its decision to summon Oniha was to ascertain the claim by members of the Nigerians in the Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) that they were not carried along when the bond was subscribed in the international capital market.

An official of the DMO, Usiade Monday, who appeared before the committee maintained that the DMO was not bound to render account of how the bond was subscribed to the group.

His response did not, however, go down well with members of the committee like Rotimi Agunsoye (Lagos: APC) and Okon Archibong (Akwa Ibom: PDP) who argued that since it was the National Assembly that approved the bond, it reserved the right to probe how the deal was consumated.

Orji, who recalled how she took the pains to traverse various countries across the world to woo NIDO to buy into the bond without much success, said there was the need to investigate the matter after she was inundated with claims that NIDO members were excluded in the exercise.   

She said: “The DG would have to appear before the committee to give us key information on those that subscribed to the bond, the nationality of those involved and their addresses and whether the procedure followed was in line with the law.”

The bond, raised at a coupon rate of 5.625 per cent for a tenor of five years, was targeted principally at Nigerians abroad to give them the opportunity of contributing to national development.

The committee also directed the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) to provide details of how the N79 million so far released to it to cater for the needs of Nigerians in the Diaspora was spent.

NAPTIP’s Director of Finance and Accounts, Hassan James, who appeared before the committee to defend the agency’s 2017 budget, explained that of the N120 million appropriated, NAPTIP got N79 million between December last year and now. He, however, failed to satisfactorily explain how the fund so far released was expended.

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Patience Oniha
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