The House of Representatives Wednesday resolved to constitute an ad-hoc committee to investigate alleged malpractices by Nigerian National Petroleum Cooperation (NNPC) in the $8 billion crude oil swap contracts involving five oil companies, but some members of the House objected to the probe.
The contracts in question were brokered by the Pipeline and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the NNPC, during the immediate-past regime of ex-president Goodluck Jonathan.
The decision of the House to look into the controversial deal followed a motion on the ‘Urgent Need For a Forensic Investigation of the Contract known as ‘Refined Product Exchange Agreement or Swap Contract’” sponsored by Hon. Michael Enyong (Akwa Ibom, PDP) at plenary.
He noted in the motion that the revenue of the country had plummeted due to leakages in the accounting system and mismanagement of the economy.
Those against the probe hinged their objection on the fact that the sponsor of the motion did not provide adequate data to back his allegations while others said the exercise will amount to a duplication of functions as another agency of government was already investigating the matter.
Hon. Nnanna Igbokwe (PDP, Imo) asserted that there was no need for the House’s intervention again since President Muhammadu Buhari had already directed the Department of State Security (DSS) to commence investigation into the matter.
For his part, Hon. Obinna Chidoka (Anambra, PDP) opposed the motion, saying there were enough investigative reports on the oil sector which the House should revisit and take action instead of a fresh exercise.
Also, Prof. Mojeed Alabi (APC, Oyo) said the motion was lacking in research and data accuracy, and therefore, called for more diligent work to provide the ground for meaningful investigation.
Hon. Emmanuel Oghene (Lagos, PDP) supported the motion, citing the amount of money and unaccounted for crude oil involved, adding that it cannot be wished away by the House, while Hon. Razak Atunwa (Kwara, APC) faulted Igbokwe’s assertion, adding that the gravity of the consequences of the oil swap arrangement on the nation should make it mandatory for the House to carry out its own investigation.
However, Enyong while leading the debate, revealed that the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) had, in its 2009-2011 and 2012 reports, ascertained that there was revenue loss to the tune of $8 billion due to discrepancies between the value of the crude oil given out and the refined products delivered.
Enyong said that in 2011, there was a shortfall of 500,075,320 litres of refined product by the five oil firms namely: Transfigura (173,786,600 litres); Vitol (654,440 litres); Taleveras (152,308,878 litres); Aiteo Ltd (193,045,590 litres); and Ontario Oil & Gas (180,278,732 litres).
“There is the need to ensure transparency and accountability by the NNPC in the management of revenue accruing to the nation from crude oil, particularly in the prevailing circumstances where major buyer of Nigeria’s crude oil, the United States of America (USA), has discovered alternative sources,” he said.
He further said that the concerns raised in the motion were in tandem with the anti-corruption stance of President Muhammadu Buhari.
However, there were initially procedural bottlenecks to block the motion but members eventually voted in support of it and Speaker Yakubu Dogara referred the matter to a yet-to-be-constituted ad-hoc committee to address the issues raised.
“I sincerely believe that the allegations are grave enough to warrant a legislative intervention on our part,” he said.
Senate calls on FG to revamp refineries
The Senate Wednesday called on the federal government to revamp existing refineries in the country and create an enabling environment for privately-owned ones.
The Upper House also set up an ad-hoc committee to establish the level of preparedness of government and its agencies to contain the predicted flooding and report back within two weeks.
…Summons NNPC over state of refineries
The Senate also summoned NNPC to, as soon as the relevant committees are in place, give account of the state of the refineries.
The lawmakers also called on the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) to organize regular training for tanker drivers.
These resolutions were sequel to the motion sponsored by Senator Gbenga Ashafa (Lagos, APC) on fuel tanker tragedies on Nigeria’s highways.
Leading the debate, Ashafa expressed worry at the rising spate of fuel tanker explosions on the highways which once again raised questions about the rail-line projects of the past administrations as an alternative route to Nigerian highways.
He also observed that within one week, four fuel tanker accidents occurred in Nigeria’s major cities, claiming lives and destroying properties.
He said: “All the fuel tankers lifting fuel from the tank farms along Apapa Oshodi expressway have done tremendous damage to the highways causing death, pain and gridlocks on the highway.
“Concerned that time has come for government to seek permanent solution instead of temporary palliatives, fuel tankers from all states in the North, South East and South South states come to Lagos to lift fuel and besiege the highways causing the type of tragedy we have recorded recently at Onitsha and Lagos.”
“If our refineries were functional, all the tankers in Nigeria would not have business coming to Lagos to lift fuel, as refineries in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna would have taken care of that.”
According to him, the current road networks in the country are grossly inadequate for the operations of trucks, tankers and the like.
Subsequently, the Senate called on the present administration to continue the process of revamping the rail system to ease the pressure on Nigerian roads.
Meanwhile, in a motion sponsored by Senator Andy Uba on managing the challenges of the rainy season, he expressed serious concern about the seasonal rainfall predictions of the Nigerian Meteorological agency (NIMET) for 2015, which shows high rainfall.
He also lamented that the hydrological services agency, ministries of Water resources, aviation, environment, the Nigeria inland waterways authority and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) were all aware of these predictions but do not appear to be prepared or coordinated to tackle the impending challenge.
Reps urge IGP to investigate Plateau, Delta, Kaduna killings
The House of Representatives Wednesday urged the Inspector-General of Police to investigate the recent killings reported in Plateau, Delta and Kaduna states.
The resolution followed separate motions moved by Hon. Ossai Ossai (Delta, PDP), Hon. Shehu Nicholas Garba (Kaduna, PDP) and Hon. Gyang Istifanus Dung (Plateau, PDP).
Leading the debate, Ossai reported the killing of two natives of Ogume and Afor communities in Delta State on June 15 by suspected herdsmen and demanded that the culprits be punished according to the law.
According to Ossai, the attack which led to the killing of the two farmers also recorded the infliction of gunshot injuries on 10 other persons.
Ossai said that prior to the attack, a meeting was held between the communities and herdsmen where the herdsmen were urged to herd their cattle towards uncultivated areas.
“Rather than comply with the request, the herdsmen, on that fateful day, ambushed and brutally murdered the two indigenes and inflicted injuries on 10 others while they were on their way to their farms. It is disturbing that these people who have gone to increase their family income through farming were killed in the process,” Ossai said.
On the Kaduna June 16 attacks, Shehu reported that “unknown gunmen” killed and injured 15 people in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of the state and called on the federal government to treat the incident as a terrorist act, and the casualties as victims of terror.
The Kaduna lawmaker called on the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to assist the affected community with relief materials and the Special Task Force (STF) to intensify security operations in crisis-prone Nasarawa, Plateau and Kaduna states
House Speaker Yakubu Dogara said that the matter would be referred to the House Committee on Police Affairs when constituted for further legislative actions.