From Kemi Yesufu, Abuja
The House of Representatives ad hoc Committee investigating $17 billion undeclared proceeds of crude oil and liquefied gas sales between 2011 and 2014 has summoned Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC).
The summon from the Abdukrazaq Namdas-led committee followed the failure of legal officers who represented the oil firms to make presentation or comments on the matter being investigated as the same issue is a subject of litigation.
Before yesterday’s appearance, both companies had failed to respond to queries on several undeclared payments on crude oil sold during the period under review that were traced to them.
At yesterday’s hearing, Shell’s representative, Funmi Olafimihan, was asked to confirm a document containing a list of payments connected to her company but she declined comment.
“I can neither confirm nor deny the content of this document,” she stated, explaining that the Federal Government dragged Shell to court over the same matter, which her company has contested.
Joke Aliu who represented Agip, said though the company respects the powers of the House, it cannot speak on the issues raised by the committee as it is party to a court case instituted by the Federal Government.
However, Chairman of the committee argued that the reasons given by International Oil Companies (IOCs) were untenable because the House was constitutionally empowered to investigate and request for information from any person or organisation in the country.
“It is the Executive that took you to court not the House of Representatives. As a legislature, we have a responsibility to carry out our own duty. The Federal Government took you to court to recover a shortfall, to compel you to pay what you refused to pay. On the other hand, ours is to uncover corruption, to unravel how and why certain monies were paid into different accounts without proper documentation. Even the periods covered by the two issues were different.
“Being in court does not mean that the National Assembly cannot investigate such matters because the constitution is very clear on that. It is just sad that IOCs are using Nigerians to subvert our system,” Namdas said.
In its ruling, the committee said the CEOs of the two companies must appear before it today (Wednesday) or risk being forced to.