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Reps Summon Finance Minister, Attorney General Over $2.4bn Undeclared Crude Oil Sales, Vows To Protect Whistle Blower, Pass Protection Bill

•••As Gbajabiamila Laments Endemic Corruption In Nigeria


By Admin

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 Including, All Crude Oil Exports and Sales by Nigeria from 2014 Till Date’, has summoned the Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed Shamsuna 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 panel which issued the summon on Tuesday at an investigative hearing on the subject matter also slammed Oriental Energy Limited with a One-week ultimatum 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 from Benue gave the ruling at the end of day-one of the investigative hearing in Abuja.

Addressing participants and his colleagues at the hearing, Gbillah said the focus of the panel is on the alleged sale of crude in China which was not remitted back to the federation account, as well as 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.

Hon. Gbillah further revealed 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.

Declaring the hearing open, the House of Representatives Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila earlier stated the resolve of the 9th Assembly to pass the Whistle Blower Bill, urging the panel to turning it’s report so as to guide the House in deciding on the Bill.

“Corruption continues to be the bane of Nigeria’s development with Nigeria ranking 150th out of 180 countries in the most recent Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). While the government through its antigraft agencys continues the onerous fight against corruption, the task remains daunting and requires the cooperation of all Nigerians to curb and eventually eradicate.

“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,” Gbajabiamila, who was represented by Hon. Isiaka Ibrahim from Ogun state stressed.

A former member of the House in the 8th Assembly, Hon. Johnson Agbonayinma from Edo state 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.




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