Investigating the alleged sales of 48 million barrels of crude oil has summoned the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed.
The committee also summoned the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, representatives of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission, Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Index (NEITI), and oil and gas companies.
The House had in December 2022 resolved to probe the alleged missing barrels of crude oil allegedly sold in China by some Nigerian officials.
The resolution followed a motion moved by Ibrahim Isiaka (APC, Ogun), who claimed in his motion that the tip was provided by a whistleblower.
The ad hoc committee, chaired by Mark Gbillah, on Tuesday, issued the summons at its inauguration sitting
Consequently, the House mandated the committee to investigate all crude oil exports and sales by Nigeria from 2014 to date, with regards to quantity, insurance, revenue generated, remittances into the Federation Account or other accounts as well as utilization of the revenue for the period under review.
In addition, the panel will investigate all proceeds recovered through the Whistle-Blowers Policy of the regime led by the President, Muhammadu Buhari, and the level of compliance with the policy.
Speaking on the failure of the officials to honor the invitation of the committee, Mr. Gbillah said there are allegations against Ms. Ahmed of breach of the Whistleblower policy of the government. He said the minister has been paying whistleblowers less than the recommended rate prescribed by the policy.
“Unfortunately, the honorable minister of finance is not here, the attorney-general of the federation is not here, and this is a formal request from the committee that they appear before this committee because they have received a formal invitation to do so and a lot of what we have to investigate regards to the whistleblower policy is saddled within the ministry of finance and the attorney-general of the federation.
“The responses we have received from the Accountant-Genaral office shows that the honorable minister of finance has been approving payments to whistleblowers in percentages at variance with what the policy says they should be paid,” he said.
He said the AGF on the other hand has been accused of receiving money from outside the country without remitting the same to the Federation Account.
“They 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.
“And there have been allegations that expenditures of these recoveries have also been done in complete violation of the provision of the constitution,” he said.
Mr. Gbillah also disclosed that the committee has intelligence that ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) have not been complying with the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
He said all the officials concerned must appear before the committee to give clarification.
“The CBN made a formal response to this committee indicating that under the TSA policy “agencies operate their TSA account and make expenditure from these account without recourse to the CBN.”
“This is something that is alarming to this committee 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,” he said
Mr. Gbillah did not specify the date the officials are to appear before the committee.
This is no witch-hunt — Gbajabiamila
In his opening remarks, the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, stated that the hearing is not designed to witch-hunt anyone, but to end the corruption in the oil sector.
Mr. Gbajabiamila, who was represented by a member of the House, Isiaka Ibrahim (APC, Ogun), noted that it is to “ascertain the accuracy of recorded revenue from sales during this period, the utilization of this revenue and identify any likely additional losses in revenue to the country.”
He said the recommendations from the hearing will help in the passage of the Whistleblower bill currently before the National Assembly.