Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has distanced herself from the audit firm, PriceWatersHouseCoopers, saying she would not be held responsible for hiring the firm to probe Nigeria’s alleged missing oil money, days after a its report was discredited by PwC.
Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala played a vital role in 2014 when PwC was hired, as the government tried to counter an allegation that $20 billion oil money had been stolen. The Former Central Bank Governor, Lamido Sanusi, now Emir of Kano State brought this to light, enlightening the public of the missing $20 billion.
An efforts by the government and the Senate to reconcile these allegations yielded no tangible results, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala recommended an independent forensic audit which she later announced the hiring of PriceWaterHouseCoopers. The report containing the outcome of PwC’s investigation, was released Monday several months after the firm completed its assignment. However, PriceWaterHouseCoopers said the work should not be relied upon, as it lacks international standards.
In an unusual statement Thursday, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala sought to steer clear of the audit firm, although she said her response followed a lawsuit blaming her for the hiring.
A statement released by Paul Nwabuikwu, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala’s spoksperson, said the minister was responding to a lawsuit filed by a group of three accounting firms before a Lagos High Court, accusing Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala of violating federal local content law by appointing PwC.
“The CME is astonished by the news of the said court action which is spurious in the extreme,” spokesperson Mr. Nwabuikwu said. “It is shocking that professionals of the calibre of the SIAO Partners can embark on this kind of legal action without taking the trouble to do the minimum amount of homework to confirm basic facts.”
The statement said “Okonjo-Iweala did not appoint the PWC to carry out the audit”.
The minister called on those behind the suit to immediately drop it or face her in court.