A fresh feud may be brewing between the House of Representatives and the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.
THISDAY, in the company of some select newspapers, learnt that the minister, who had employed the courts to quash a House probe into her alleged use of $10 billion to hire jets, may also use the same method to block the legislators’ scrutiny of the $14.9 billion paid into the account of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) by the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG).
The Chairman of the House Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Hon. Adeola Solomon Olamilekan (APC, Lagos), who hinted at the likelihood of another confrontation between his committee and Alison-Madueke, revealed this to journalists.
“Just about a month ago, we invited the NLNG to appear before the Committee of Public Accounts. They came and they told us that the federal government has about 51 per cent share holding in NLNG while 49 per cent is owned by Shell and other private sector outfits. They said between 2004 -2014, they have remitted to NNPC coffer the sum of $14.9 billion,” he said.
The correct equity holding in NLNG is: federal government through NNPC – 49 per cent, while Shell, Elf and Agip hold 51 per cent in the company.
Olamilekan explained that the committee decided to invite NNPC to provide “the documents which we need as a committee.”
After writing to the NNPC “asking for an evidence for this sources of revenue, the Value Added Tax (VAT) statement and expenditure from that account and any other item that they can furnish us with, “the corporation replied through one of its lawyers, Mr. Mike Ozekhome and Co, saying and quoting Section 88 and other sections of the Constitution as to why they cannot come before the committee with this particular document.”
The legislator, who is aspiring to become a senator, explained that on the face value of the exchanges, although the NNPC is yet to go to court, that option might be its next line of action considering what happened with the jet hire probe.
He said the committee “will study the document sent to us, then formerly write and on Tuesday, I want to come by a motion under matters of public importance so that the House can know what is in the offing as far as NLNG is concerned.”
He added: “For you to clarify issues on this item of transaction that concerns the generality of Nigerians and the next line of action is for you to go to a lawyer to start writing us to the committee and then from there move to the court to go and seek for an injunction, preventing us from having access to that documents.”
“That means there is more to what we are seeing. I am giving this as an information and to tell the extent in which they have used the judiciary to stall a lot of investigations we are carrying out in the House and I believe it is not too good for our democracy.
“It is not too good for us as a government and it is not too good for us as a legislative arm because we are separate bodies and I believe everybody should face what his or her duty are,” he said.