The House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee investigating the alleged loss of over $2.4 billion in revenue from illegal sale of 48 million barrels of crude oil in 2015, has summoned Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, to appear before as part of its ongoing investigation.
The invitees are expected to submit information about payments made into the Federation Account and provide recommendations for legislative work on the Whistleblower Protection Bill, which is currently before the lower legislative chamber. The panel is also looking into all oil exports and sales from 2014 to the present.
The panel which issued the summon on Tuesday, April 11, 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.
The committee’s chairman, Mark Gbillah, stated that the panel’s attention was on the purported sale of crude in China that was apparently not remitted as well as other issues covered in its mandate.
He clarified: “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 attested to.
“It’s unfortunate that the Minister of Finance and the Attorney General of the Federation are not here.
“This is a formal request from the committee that they should appear before us, as they have received formal invitations. And a lot of what we have to investigate regarding the whistleblower policy is saddled within the Ministry of Finance and the Attorney General of the Federation (Office).
“There are responses received from the Accountant General’s Office, which show that the Minister of Finance has been approving payments to whistleblowers in percentages at variance with what 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 provisions of the Constitution.
“There have been allegations that there has been expenditure from these recoveries in complete violation of provisions of the Constitution.”
Gbillah went on: “The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) made a formal response to this committee, indicating that. You see agencies make expenditure from their Treasury Single Accounts (TSAs) without recourse to the CBN.
“This is something alarming the CBN declared before us. We are aware of constitutional provisions that state all revenue accruing to the federation must be paid into the Federation Account.”
The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, earlier restated the resolve of the Ninth Assembly to pass the Whistle Blower Protection Bill, urging the panel to expeditiously submit its report.
“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,” he added.