26 January 2016, Abuja – Th e H o u s e o f representatives said on Monday that the current Minister of Petroleum Resources would be invited to answer questions on the controversial Refined Product Exchange Agreement contracts executed by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and its subsidiary, the Pipelines Product Marketing Company, between 2011 and 2015.
Otherwise known as SWAP, the deals involved the exchange of crude oil for refined petroleum products in which the corporation gave out part of its 445,000 barrels daily share of crude to trading companies.
The House Ad hoc Commi t t e e , which is investigating the deals, already had evidence that crude worth over $24bn exchanged hands between the government agencies and some crude marketing firms, including Duke Oil and Tranfigura.
The committee is chaired by an All Progressives Congress lawmaker from Kwara State, Mr. Zakari Mohammed.
Mohammed told The PUNCH in Abuja that the minister would have to appear before the committee to speak on the role of his ministry in the deals.
When reminded that President Muhammadu Buhari doubles as the p e t roleum minister, Mohammed replied that the President could delegate his Minister of State, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, to appear before the committee.
He explained that the committee was not interested in knowing whether Buhari or Kachikwu was not in office when the contracts were signed.
Mohammed added, “This is an investigation. The committee will invite the minister we know today. If the President cannot come, that is why there is a minister of state; Mr. President can delegate him.
“Let the minister come and tell the committee that he knows nothing about the transactions because he was not the minister at that time.
“They should lead us to the minister (ex-ministers) who have the right information.”
Mohammed stated that the minister and the NNPC would be the last to testify before the panel, following which the committee would tidy up its report on the findings.
The committee had on Thursday last week summoned the chief executive officers of two firms, Ontario and Aiteo, to appear on Tuesday (today) without fail or risk arrest by the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase.
The two got sub-contracts from Duke Oil’s share of 33.7 million metric tonnes of crude.
The summons followed the disclosure by the PPMC that Ontario still had $98m worth of refined products to deliver to the country while Aiteo owed Nigeria $37m worth of products.
Mo h a m m e d h a d complained last week that the two firms had refused to appear before the committee preferring to send legal representations.
He said, “After sending invitations to them and they have failed to turn up, the next step is to summon them.”