Reps Seek Prosecution Of Diezani, Ali, Others

House of Rep Speaker, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal

The House of Representatives yesterday demanded the prosecution of the NNPC board headed by Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke and the defunct PPPRA board led by former PDP chairman Ahmadu Ali over their roles in managing fuel subsidy funds.
Lawmakers yesterday began debating the Faruk Lawal committee report tabled last week, and adopted 35 recommendations, some of them wholly and others with slight amendments.
Among the clauses adopted are those indicting and recommending for prosecution the board and management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation over fraudulently collecting billions in the name of fuel subsidy in 2009-2011.
Recommendation 10 said, “The management and board of the NNPC should be completely overhauled and all those involved in the following infractions be further investigated and prosecuted by the relevant anti-corruption agencies:
“(a) Payment of N285.098 billion in excess of the PPPRA recommended figure for 2011 (b) subsidy deductions of N310,414,963,613 for kerosene against a Presidential directive (c) Direct deductions from funds meant for the Federation Account in contravention of Section 162 of the Nigerian Constitution (d) Illegal granting of price differential (discounts) of crude oil price per barrel to NNPC to the tune of N108.648 billion from 2009-2011.”
No names of the NNPC board and management members were mentioned in the recommendations adopted, and because of this, Rep. Adams Jagaba, who is chairman of the anti-corruption committee, asked the House to name the names. But Deputy Speaker Emeka Ihedioha, who presided over the session, rejected this, arguing that the recommendations as crafted by the committee were satisfactory.
According to the NNPC website, the corporation’s board is chaired by Mrs Alison-Madueke, while the group executive directors are: group managing director Augustine Oniwon, Philip Chukwu, Attahir Yusuf, Michael Arokodare, Aminu Babakusa, Faithful AbbiyeSuku, Billy Agha, David Ige and Andrew Yakubu.
The NNPC on Sunday denied the accusations of irregularities against it as contained in the House committee report.
Also, the defunct board of the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency which served in 2009-2011, headed by Ali, was implicated in the subsidy scam and recommended for prosecution.
“The chairman of the board of PPPRA from 2009-2011, and the entire members of the board during the period are hereby reprimanded and their decision which opened the floodgate for the bazaar is condemned in the strongest terms,” one of the adopted clauses said.
But lawmakers objected to the use of the word “reprimand” and instead suggested “prosecution” after a motion by Rep. Musa Sarkin-Adar (PDP, Sokoto).
PPPRA had also issued a statement on Monday denying any wrongdoing in the subsidy regime.
The House yesterday called for the whittling of Mrs Alison-Madeuke’s powers as minister, asking President Jonathan to appoint two ministers for the ministry.
NNPC is also recommended for audit by the Auditor General of the Federation within 90 days to determine its solvency. The corporation is also asked to refund N705 billion to the federation account within 90 days, being monies illegality deducted in the name of subsidy.
The PPPRA is asked to refund N312.2 billion which it paid itself between 2009 and 2010.
However, the House rejected the recommendation of the committee on 17 oil marketers that refused to appear before the panel during the public hearing in February, and ordered that the committee re-invite them within the next two weeks “in the spirit of fair hearing.”
The House adjourned consideration of the report to today after adopting 35 of the 62 recommendations.
Next on the list of the recommendations are the ones affecting Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo’s tenure as accountant general of the federation. He is being accused of making questionable subsidy payments amounting to billions in 2009, allegations he already denied.
Daily Trust learnt that Dankwambo has also written a letter to Speaker of the House, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, arguing that he was not given fair hearing before the committee reached its conclusions.
In the letter, dated April, 22, 2012, a copy of which was obtained by Daily Trust yesterday, Dankwambo said, “I wish to state very clear terms that the OAGF does not have the power to make payments on its own. The office only releases funds to MDAs after due authorisation by the Hon. Minister of Finance. In relation to payments of subsidy to oil marketers it is the PPPRA that computes the total bulk of subsidy to be released to its account and forward same to the Federal ministry of Finance.”
He added: “I wish to express my sincere concern that for the purpose of fair hearing and in line with the principles of natural justice, I should have been invited by the Honourable Committee to give clarification on the issues that have direct bearing on my person. If I was given a chance to explain, this issue would not have arisen.”
Daily Trust learnt yesterday that Dankwambo may now be given a chance to appear before the committee at a later date. A senior lawmaker said when the clauses affecting Dankwambo come up for consideration today, the House will decide to stay action on them until he is allowed to testify before the Faruk Lawal-committee.
Shortly before the debate on the report began yesterday, Tambuwal read out a speech in which he urged the executive to implement recommendations of the House.
“Our only interest here is to mitigate the suffering of Nigerians by showing how the subsidy regime has been hijacked for the benefit of a few. At the end of our deliberations we hope that the executive arm will act upon the resolutions of this House and bring more transparency to bear on the system,” he said.
“I have heard all kinds of insinuations, including the one about anti-graft agencies waiting for a ‘harmonise version’ of this report before taking any action. Let me quickly say here that this is at best an excuse that cannot stand after all the same agencies accept and investigate petitions from individuals, how much more resolutions of this House, there will be no such document so they should just go ahead and do their job and where they find any person or body culpable, they should proceed in accordance with the law,” he added.
House spokesman Zakari Mohammed later told journalists that the House would engage the services of “private prosecutors” if the executive fails to take up the matter.



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