Reps probe 16 oil marketers over alleged N500b debt
• Senate reconsiders gender equality bill
To boost government revenue, the House of Representatives has resolved to probe oil marketers who are indebted to the Petroleum Product Marketing Company (PPMC) by over N500 billion.
Adopting a motion under matter of urgent public importance sponsored by Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe (Ogoja: PDP: Cross River), the House presided over by Speaker Yakubu Dogara resolved to set up an ad hoc committee to investigate the huge debt and the alleged act of sabotage by the oil marketers in connivance with the management of the PPMC. The committee is to report back to the House within two weeks.
Moving the motion, Jarigbe alleged compromise by functionaries of the PPMC to leave government funds in the hands of marketers, thereby putting the country in dire financial straits.
“The complacency of the management of PPMC might compromise the interest of government and deprive the country of an opportunity of getting back funds that are arbitrarily in custody of a few individuals who intend to sabotage government and criminally convert the money that should rightly accrue to the Consolidated Revenue Fund. This act of criminality should be vehemently resisted.”
He listed the marketers indebted to the PPMC as Oando, Forte Oil, NIPCO, Total Oil, Coniol, Mobil Oil, Masters Energy Oil and Gas, Heyden Petroleum, Rahamaniya Petroleum, Amicable Petroleum, Aieteo Petroleum, Honeywell Oil, Capital Oil, Felande Petroleum, Sharon Oil and Zamson Petroleum.
The lawmakers also called on the authorities to expedite action to rehabilitate the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and rebuild the north east zone worst hit by the nefarious activities of the Boko Haram terror group.
While adopting a motion sponsored by Mohammed Nur Sherrif (Bama: APC: Borno), the lawmakers also enjoined the Committee on the North East Rehabilitation led by Gen. Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma (rtd) to make public those that pledged to assist, with the aim of getting them to redeem their pledges.
Also yesterday, members of the Committee on Public Accounts resolved to compel the appearance of the National Environmental Standard and Regulation Enforcement Agency (NESREA) and Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) over allegations levelled against them by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation. It was learnt that the two agencies had ignored the invitation of the lawmakers thrice without any explanation.
The office periodically audits accounts of agencies of government and refer those alleged to be involved in deceitful spending to the National Assembly for questioning.Chairman of the committee, Kingsley Chinda said leaders of the agencies risked being arrested, as the only option left is for them to ensure that they account for their budgetary spending in the last administration.
“We cannot continue to allow government institutions to take us for granted because we represent the collective interest of Nigerians. Since we have invited them three times as required by the law and they have ignored us, we will mandate the clerk of the committee to write to the clerk of the National Assembly to issue warrants of arrest on them,” Chinda threatened.
The committee also condemned the Federal Ministry of Youth Development, which it alleged unilaterally diverted N104.863 million meant for developing the four National Youth Centres in Nigeria for other uses. The panel asked the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr. Christian Ohaa, who stood for the minister to ensure the refund of the money appropriated for the purpose in the 2010 budget to the treasury.
The ministry’s invitation by the committee followed a query made to it by the use of the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation in accusing the ministry of failing to seek virement to use the sum for other purposes. The permanent secretary defended that the ministry took the decision due to the exigencies of the time.
The committee asked the ministry to return to the Federal Government, based on recommendations of the auditor-general’s office, the sum of N62. 504 million it claimed to have used in 2009 for clearing of site for establishing a youth development centre in Oyo State. Members of the committee said the amount was outrageous, especially as the contractor had been fully mobilised when the job was yet to be completed.
Meanwhile, six months after it rejected the “Gender Parity and Prohibition of Violence against Women” bill, the Senate yesterday reconsidered the proposal. The bill sponsored by Senator Abiodun Olujimi (PDP, Ekiti South) passed second reading.
On March 15, 2016, the Senate blocked the bill over claims that it was in conflict with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution. Olujimi had, among other things, advocated that if the bill was passed, a widow in Nigeria would automatically become the custodian of her children in the event of the death of her husband and would also inherit his property.
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