12 March 2015, Abuja – The House of Representatives on Wednesday raised the alarm over alleged underground moves to block the probe of the $14.9bn remitted revenue by the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas.
Its Committee on Public Accounts, headed by Mr. Adeola Solomon-Olamilekan, said records before it showed that the money was remitted to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation between 2004 and 2014.
According to the committee, the Federal Government controls around 51 per cent stake in the company, while the oil giant, Shell, and a host of other private concerns share the remaining 49 per cent.
But, the committee stated that efforts to get information on the dividends and for what purposes they might have been applied had so far hit a brick wall.
Solomon-Olamilekan told The PUNCH in Abuja that since February 2014, the committee had written letters seeking information on all the expenditure drawn on the account, including the Value Added Tax to no avail.
He said, “Between 2004 and 2014, they (NLNG) said they remitted to the NNPC the sum of $14.9bn. As the committee of the parliament overseeing public accounts, it fell within our duties to seek for this information from the NNPC.
“The committee wrote to the corporation asking for information as well as the VAT statement, and whether there is any expenditure from that account.”
However, rather than providing the information requested, Solomon-Olamilekan said a law firm wrote the committee to say that the corporation was not under any obligation to respond to inquiries on the $14.9bn revenue.
“They (law firm) wrote us and went as far as quoting Section 88 of the 1999 Constitution on why they will not provide this information”, he added.
Last year, a similar attempt by the committee to investigate the N10bn the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, allegedly spent to charter private aircraft failed after the minister went to court to halt the probe.
Ruling on the matter, an Abuja Federal High Court granted an injunction in favour of the minister, stopping the investigation.
Although the House vowed to challenge the decision of the court, it has yet to do so.
There were concerns among committee members on Wednesday that the current inquiry into the NLNG revenue remittance might go the same way.
Solomon-Olamilekan said, “We requested documents from those concerned to clarify issues on this transaction because it concerns the generality of Nigerians. What we got was for a law firm to start writing the committee.
“It means the next step will be to go and get another injunction saying the House has no powers to look into matters such as this. Is there no more to what is going on than we can see?”
Findings showed that the committee had planned to bring its frustration before the whole House as a matter of urgent public importance on Tuesday last week but stood it down to conclude all preliminary works.
There were indications that the motion could be raised today (Thursday) though the committee declined to confirm this.