$2.4bn Crude Oil Probe: Again, Reps summon Finance Minister, AGF
The House of Representatives, on Wednesday, invited the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami over allegations bothering on the approved payment of the sum of $200 million to two private firms as consultancy services fees on whistle blowers recoveries.
The lawmakers through the Ad-hoc Committee investigating the sale of 48 million barrels of crude oil amounting to over $2.4 billion and crude oil export to global destinations from 2014 to date, also invited the Minister of Finance, Dr. Zainab Ahmed to explain her role in the said approvals and payment without providing details of actual recoveries from whistle blowers.
The Chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee Hon. Mark Gbillah who issued the notice at the resumed hearing of the investigation, expressed displeasure over the Ministers’ disregard to the series of invitations sent to them.
Gbillah said: “We have not been getting any form of cooperation from the Ministry of Finance and Attorney General’s office regarding this investigation despite series of correspondents sent to them on this matters that we are investigating.
“We’ve seen documentations from the Accountant General’s office, where the Minister of Finance approved the payment of substantial significant amount of money to so-called whistle blowers where details of monies recovered were not provided.
“We’ve heard Media reports by the federal government indicating that millions of dollars were recovered through whistle blower revelations on behalf of the country.
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“But we as a parliament have not seen where those monies were routed through the constitutional appropriation process before they were expended. The constitution is very clear about the receipt and expenditure of Nigeria’s money,” he said.
Hon. Gbillah who harped on the need for the public office holders to give account of their stewardship, specifically stressed the need to where the Attorney General derives the powers to approve payment of funds meant for the Federation without recourse to the legislature through formal request by the Executive.
“We’ve looked at the functions of the Attorney General’s office and we’ve not seen any statutory powers provided for the Attorney General by the constitution to determine how Nigeria’s money should be spent.
“There was an incident about a whistle blower who made a formal report to Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) about $200 million paid into two companies account – Biz Plus and GSCL allegedly for consultancy services, which allegedly were approved, they said by the Attorney General’s office on the approval of Mr. President.
“We need the honourable Minister of Finance, and the Attorney General of the Federation to appear before this House to provide clarity on the inflows that have come in from whistle blowers recoveries, and about these monies that were recovered.
“And the CBN is required to provide information that has been provided by these whistle blowers about substantial amounts of monies that were paid supposedly and allegedly for consultancy services when there’s no record of any agreement entered into by those companies regarding any services.
“These are very weighty allegations and as a responsible House, we owe everybody fair hearing and a benefit of doubt, and this is what we’ve been seeking to accord those who have been mentioned in these allegations.
“But we find it uncautionable that the honourable Minister of Financial and Attorney General of Federation have not bothered to respond to any of the correspondence from the committee and this in our opinion shows a lack of regard not only to the Institution of House, but that of the National Assembly as a whole.
“We will make this further appeal to the honourable Minister of Finance and the Attorney General of the Federation and all others who have not responded or who have not honoured the Committee’s invitations to do so in the national interest.
“And in the event that they fail to do so, we will be constrained to invoke the instrument if summons and all other necessary powers the National Assembly can exercise in this regard.
“But we want to make this a formal and final notice to those concerned, the Honourable Minister of Finance and the Attorney General of the Federation to cause appearance before the Committee to give evidence with regard to the allegations that have been laid with regard to the questions the committee has requested for them to answer and to respond to,” Hon. Gbillah noted.
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