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TCN petition hindered recovery of $69.4 million debt, NBET alleges 

The Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Company (NBET) has disclosed that a petition from the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) hindered its efforts to recover approximately $69.4 million debt owed by two foreign companies operating from Benin Republic.

In response to an audit query from the Office of the Auditor General for the Federation (OAuGF), NBET explained that in June 2017, it had advised the companies, NIGELEC and CEB, to continue crediting the account of TCN Market Operator pending the finalization of new contractual/commercial frameworks. However, negotiations faced challenges from TCN and the international customers, delaying the signing of new Power Sale Agreements.

The management of NBET clarified that while the government directed them to conclude international contractual engagements, TCN asserted that NBET had no role in the ECOWAS regional electricity market and could not execute contracts with CEB and NIGELEC. TCN claimed responsibility for recovering outstanding debts and stated that they had reconciled the debt and were discussing a payment plan.

Consequently, NBET emphasized that TCN was in the best position to account for the outstanding payments, but NBET was taking necessary steps to recover its portion of the credited payments.

The audit query also highlighted issues regarding loans disbursed to former NBET officers for the acquisition of properties while in active service. The audit observed that a significant portion of the loans remained unpaid at the time of audit, with some officers disengaged from service without clearing their outstanding balances.

However, NBET’s management failed to provide a satisfactory explanation for these discrepancies, leading to a recommendation that the managing director justify why the officers were disengaged without settling their outstanding loans.

A part of the report explained thus: “Audit observed that N321.724 million was paid to a former Managing Director of the company and seven other officers as staff mortgage scheme/revolving loans for the acquisition of properties while they were in active service.

“Of the above amount, a former Managing Director received N85,283,867.36 in January 2018, while the balance of N236,440,927.81 was paid to the seven officers in July 2016.

“At the time of disengagement from the service in July 2020, the former Managing Director had only repaid N35,707,541.90, leaving an unpaid balance of N49,576,325.48, while the sum of N97,657,416.14 was recovered from the seven former officers of the company, leaving an unpaid balance of N138,783,511.67.

“In all, the sum of N188,359,837.15 remained outstanding at the time of audit in October 2020, and all the officers in question were disengaged from service in 2018 without paying the outstanding loan of N188,359,837.15.”

This revelation sheds light on the complexities surrounding debt recovery processes and the challenges faced by government agencies in ensuring financial accountability and transparency, a source said.

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