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Reps probe $9.6b judgment debt as Senate justifies N5.5 billion cars

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The House of Representatives yesterday ordered the immediate probe of the alleged act of negligence by the Ministries of Justice and Petroleum Resources leading to the award of a $9.6 billion judgment debt against Nigeria in the gas swap deal involving the Federal Government and the Irish firm, Process and Industrial Development Limited (P&ID).

The resolution followed the adoption of a motion under matters of urgent national importance initiated by Prof. Julius Ihonvbere (Ado: APC) at the plenary presided over by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila.

Consequently, the green chamber is constituting a 15-member ad hoc panel drawn from its committees on Justice, Public Procurement, Finance and Petroleum Resources to summon the affected ministers and other officials to shed light on all that transpired resulting in the huge award by a British arbitration court.

The invitees are to explain the alleged lapse in judgment time and due diligence in the handling of the case with a view to arriving at an amicable solution and forestalling future occurrences. The panel, at the end of its work, is to recommend appropriate sanctions where necessary as well as initiate a process of reviewing all treaties entered into by the country.

Ihonvbere had observed that the judgment debt was punitive, as it could affect the national economy that currently boasts of only $45 billion in foreign reserve and a debt overhang of over $80 billion.He maintained that the ruling exposed a deep decay in governance and leadership with far reaching implications for the credibility of the country’s capacity to handle business and legal cases.

In a related development, the Senate has decried the opposition greeting the proposed purchase of N5.5 billion operational vehicles for members of the National assembly.

Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, who registered the displeasure yesterday in Abuja, said the situation amounts to insult against the background that the procurement was on a session basis.He wondered why the “hues and cries over utility vehicles for senators whose status rank higher than ministers that go about with a retinue of official cars.”


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