Reps Summon Finance Minister, Attorney General Over $2.4bn Undeclared Crude Oil Sales
…Give Oriental Oil One-Week To Provide Details Of Its Involvement
By Linda Ike
The House of Representatives Adhoc committee investigating the
‘Alleged Loss of Over $2.4 Billion in Revenue from Illegal Sale of 48 Million Barrels of Crude Oil Export in 2015 has
summoned the Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed and the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami to provide details of status of remittances into the federation account and the Whistle Blower Protection Bill before the House.
The investigation includes All Crude Oil Exports and Sales by Nigeria from 2014 Till Date’.
The committee also slammed Oriental Energy Limited with a One-week altimatum to provide all necessary details regarding its involvement in crude oil lifting and sales within the period under review.
Chairman of the adhoc committee, Hon. Mark Gbillah who gave the ruling on Tuesday at the end of day-one of the investigative hearing in Abuja.
Gbillah said the focus of the panel is on the alleged sale of crude in China which was not remited back to the federation account, and other related matters contained in the panel’s terms of reference.
“We are looking at the issues that have to do with allegations of 48 million of crude oil barrels sold in China. We are looking at the issue of Crude oil export in general from Nigeria for the period under review. We are also looking at the whistleblower revelations and recoveries, which the Federal Government publicly declared that they have made recoveries.
“It’s unfortunate that the Minister of Finance is not here, the Attorney General of the Federation is not here.
“This is a formal request from the committee that they should appear before this committee because they have received formal invitation to do so. And a lot of what we have to investigate regards to whistleblower policy is saddled within the Ministry of Finance and the Attorney General of the federation.
“There are responses received from the accountant general’s office which shows that the Minister of Finance has been approving payments to whistleblowers in percentages at variance with the policy says they should be paid.
“There have been allegations of the Attorney General being involved also in the receipt of funds from outside the country without these funds being remitted into the federation account in line with the provisions of the constitution.
There have been allegations that there has been expenditure from these recoveries been done in complete violation of the provisions of the constitution,” he said.
Gbillah disclosed that “the CBN made a formal response to this committee indicating that. You see the TSA policy of this administration agencies operate their TSA Treasury Single Account, and make expenditure from these accounts without recourse to the CBN.
“This is something that’s alarming for the CBN to declare before us, because we are aware of constitutional provisions that state all revenue accruing to the federation must be paid into the federation account.
“So if there are recoveries being made from whistleblower these monies need to be paid into the account of the federation as required by law.
“So we are inviting Minister of Finance, the Attorney General of the federation, Secretary to the government of the Federation and stakeholders in the implementation of the whistleblower policy to appear before the committee to provide clarification on the operation of this policy and the approvals being made by the finance minister,” he said.
listing further, Gbillah said”In regards to the issue of crude oil, we are expecting the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission, NEITI, oil and gas companies who operate fuel stations and engage in export.
“The Office of the Accountant General of the Federation and the Accountant General himself to be present including the budget office of the Federation to be present and provide clarification,” he added.
The Speaker of the House of Representative, Femi Gbajabiamila while deckeRing the hearing open stated the resolve of the 9th Assembly to pass the Whistle Blower Bill.
Gbajabiamila who was represented by Hon. Isiaka Ibrahim urged the panel to turning it’s report so as to guide the House in deciding on the Bill.
“The recommendation of the Committee after its investigation will no doubt, guide the House in making an informed decision in considering the Whistle-Blower Bill currently before it. The legislation when passed into law will address mirage of issues associated with the implementation of the policy as well as take adequate care of the whistle-Blowers involved, which is very significant in the success of the policy and law when passed.
“Let me state emphatically, that whistle-blowers that volunteered information to this Honourable House will receive the maximum legislative protection and confidentiality.”
A former Lawmaker in the House of Representatives Johnson Agbonayinma blamed the highly placed Nigerians for the huge revenue loss in the oil and gas sector.
Agbonayinma who represented Ikpoba-Okha Federal Constituency of Edo state in the 8th Assembly also made presentation before the panel, informing his former colleagues that he moved a motion which necessitated a probe in 2016.
He said the quantum of money involved in the crude oil heist was way more than what the panel is investigating, suggesting that relevant agencies be summoned to give explanations, just as he promised to avail the committee of the sensitive documents at his disposal