•Summon AGF, Finance Minister, others
•As Gbajabiamila decries spate of corruption in Nigeria
The House of Representatives alleged yesterday said that the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, was in receipt of funds accrued from the sale of 48 million barrels of crude oil in a China deal without remitting same to the federation account.
Chairman of the ad hoc committee investigating the alleged loss of over $2.4 billion in revenue from the illegal sale of 48million barrels of crude oil export in 2015, including all crude oil exports and sales by Nigeria from 2014 till date, Mark Gbillah, gave the hints while addressing invitees at a public hearing of the panel.
Gbillah, who noted that the public hearing was a result of intelligence from a whistle-blower, regretted that Malami and other officials of the government earlier invited to the public hearing were absent.
Consequently, the committee issued a summons to them for an appearance at a later date to answer the issue of crude oil sales and the loss of over $2.4 billion in revenue.
Aside from Malami, others summoned include the Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL, the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission, NEITI, oil and gas companies who engaged in export, and Oriental Energy Limited.
Oriental Energy was given a week within which to provide all necessary details regarding its involvement in crude oil lifting and sales within the period under review.
Gbillah said: “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 a formal invitation to do so. And a lot of what we have to investigate in regard to the whistleblower policy is within the Ministry of Finance and the Attorney General of the Federation.
“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 remitted into the federation account, in line with provisions of the constitution.
“There have been allegations that there has been expenditure from these recoveries done in complete violation of the provisions of the constitution.”
He revealed that agencies of government operate their Treasury Single Account, TSA, and make expenditures without recourse to the CBN.
“The CBN made a formal response to this committee indicating that the agencies operate their Treasury Single Account, TSA, and make expenditures 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 that all revenue accruing to the federation must be paid into the federation account.
“So, if there are recoveries being made from whistleblowers, these monies need to be paid into the account of the federation as required by law.
“So, we are inviting the Minister of Finance, the Attorney General of the Federation, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, 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.
Protesters storm NASS
Meanwhile, a group of protesters, known as the George Uboh Whistleblowers Network, led by one Peter Umoh, stormed the main gate of the National Assembly, protesting against the setting up of the probe panel.
Displaying banners with various inscriptions against the committee’s sitting, the group said the panel did not follow due process and called on the panel to halt its proceedings forthwith.
“The whistleblowers who furnished Mark Gbillah information on the stolen crude did not file any petition to the National Assembly for any investigation or hearing, neither were they called as witnesses to testify during the hearing.
“Because Gbillah did not follow due process, the purported public hearing by the ad hoc committee is a sham predicated on unilateral action driven by greed. Therefore, we the whistleblowers at this protest, authoritatively assert that the National Assembly does not hear or deliberate on any matter in court.
“Two different competent courts of jurisdictions, are already handling the case filed against the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, Mele Kyari, to account for proceeds from the stolen crude oil which are roughly estimated to be $2.4billion at $50 per barrel and $4.8billion at $100per barrel.”