The investigate public hearing into the allegations bothering on the $60 billion missing oil revenue as well as the proposed $195 million contract for the concessioning of Nigeria’s waterways to an Israeli firm is expected to commence on Thursday, 14th December, 2017.
Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, chairman, House Committee on Public Petitions disclosed this at the National Assembly complex, Abuja, while briefing Legislative Correspondents on the itinerary of the Committee during the two weeks ‘oversight recess on 2017 budget implementation’ declared by the leadership of the House.
Nkem-Abonta who frowned at the discrepancies in the documents submitted by Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) and the IOCs, expressed optimism that the forthcoming investigate public hearing will provide platform for all the affected parties to reconcile their financial records and sort out grey areas.
“On the issue of the CBN, we have issued notices of public hearing. How can whooping sum of $60 billion be missing from leakages? If you look at its there are a lot of committees investigating leakages on revenues. I will tell you, if you look at the submissions of DPR and compare it with FIRS, with the papers of CBN and that if oil industry, OICs, I’m an Accountant; you’ll see a lot of discrepancies but we are now calling for a public hearing for all of them to come and we join issues and find out whose paper is correct and whose paper is not correct!
“So I cannot sit here and say that the IOCs papers are correct. In a situation whereby the IOCs will say we pay this, DPR will say this is what we received, FIRS say we gave you such receipts, CBN will say we received this, all these are not in agreement,” he observed.
To ensure compliance by various parties invited to the investigate public hearing, the Abia lawmaker noted that the House is working with the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) to ensure compliance and enforcement of resolutions passed by the Lower Chamber.
He said: “we are using the House mechanism through the SGF to compel Ministers. Yes, we issue summons to some agencies to come, but on one excuse or the other but we are taking appropriate steps to ensure that if you’re summoned, you will come before the Parliament, because nobody, not even the Parliamentarians is above the law.
“Not even this committee alone, the House resolutions directed at committees are not obeyed a times but thank God, the SGF said that he’s willing to cooperate with the House. We are articulating such disobedience and infractions to SGF before we now look at how we can use the parliamentary instruments to bring them to book,” Nkem-Abonta said.
While speaking on the $195 million contract for the concessioning of Nigeria’s waterways, Nkem-Abonta said: “as legislators, we have vowed to support the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to block all economic leakages as well as security issues to enable the government to do the needful in our economic strife.
“To that effect, any issue that’s a threat to the nation’s security will be treated with dispatch”.
“We have scheduled the matter to do a public hearing to know the kind of concession that is to be done. We can’t conclude until we hear from all parties.
“We want to call on all the persons concerns, minister of Transportation, defence Ministry and the minister, the companies involved to stay action until all the issues are resolved.
“Navy too will come. In the end, it may be something good for Nigeria, but we have to look at the issues holistically”, Abonta stated.
Some of the stakeholders invited by the Committee are: Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; Chief of Naval Staff, Abubakar Sadiq; Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA); Federal Ministry of Defence; Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA); and promoters of the Isreali firm, HLSI security Systems & Technologies as well as Shorefac Consortium Limited.
Recall that a coalition of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in a 3-page petition addressed to Yakubu Dogara, Speaker of the House of Representatives raised alarm over alleged breach of Chapter IV, Part III, section 217(1&2), which confers powers on the Armed Forces to defend Nigeria on land, sea or air; suppress insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by the President.
The petitioners which frowned at the plan to cede the powers of Nigerian Navy to protect the country’s waterways to Shorefac Consortium Limited, argued that the development has grave consequences on the national security.
Similarly, the Committee is expected to commence investigation into various petitions against NIMASA and other regulatory agencies.
“There are many petitions and contractual issues, we also invited the maritime people, NIMASA to come and testify,” he added.
KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja