10 May 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Senate on Tuesday has insisted on going ahead with its planned probe into the alleged fraud amounting to over $4,926,464,100 against Chevron Nigeria Limited, despite the request by a petitioner, Dr George Uboh of Panic Alert Security System, PASS, who had written to inform the Senate Committee on Public Petitions of his decision to withdraw his petition.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, pointed out that Uboh and Chevron’s Executive Director of Finance, Mr J.U Uwakwe have already appeared before the committee and made presentations on the matter.
Uboh had alleged in the report that Chevron evaded tax between 2001 and 2002 to the tune of over $343 million through over bloating of its operational costs under Petroleum Profit Tax, using Carry Agreement with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, as a cover when such agreement never existed with the company.
“That Chevron Nigeria Limited recouped spurious loan of $235 million from the Nigeria Federation between 2002 and 2005 for overdue cash calls; that Chevron conspired with some oil producing companies, NNPC auditors and defrauded the Federation of Nigeria by over $3.6 billion by merely manipulating accounts and records which were also done under the umbrella of Carry Agreements,” the report added.
The report, which stated that the representative of Chevron had denied that the oil company recouped spurious loans from the NNPC or from any other entity, maintained that “Chevron Nigeria Limited received notice of Assessment for Education Tax, Education Tas Gas and Gas Income tax and later made payment of $38,259,021 via Citibank on 28th August 2006 for the three assessments.”
Anyanwu told the lawmakers that the committee was settling down to examine submissions of the petitioner and respondent when the petitioner asked to withdraw his case.
“Consequently the committee could not continue with the case since the petitioner has given up on the matter. Based on the petitioner’s decision to withdraw the case, the committee recommended that the case be stepped down,” he said.
Contributing to the debate, Senator Dino Melaye (APC-Kogi West) argued that the petitioner seemed to incline to waste the time of the lawmakers, disclosing that the Public Petitions and Ethics Committee, of which he is a member, had already spent time working on the petitions.
He said, “The Senate is not a police station, you cannot petition the Senate and come back later to say you have withdrawn it. It is expected that before a petition comes to this Senate, due diligence must have been done. We are talking of almost $5 billion.”
The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu agreed with Melaye’s submission but disclosed that the Senate should go ahead to conduct an investigation into the petition, whether the petitioner withdraws it, or not.
“We can refer it to the Committee on Finance, or set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate it because this is about funds belonging to Nigeria. We are going to China and other places to borrow money, if we recover this, it will go a long way,” he said.
The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, who presided over the session, ruled that the petition would be investigated by an ad-hoc committee.