From Fred Itua, Abuja
The Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions has begun investigation into alleged revocation of Oil Mining Lease (OML) 13 and awarding of same to the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), a subsidiary of Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) through executive fiat.
The investigation is coming two weeks after the letter written by Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, to President Muhammadu Buhari was leaked to the media. Kachikwu, in his letter, alleged lack of due process on the part of the NNPC Group Managing Director (GMD), Mr. Maikanti Baru, in the award of contracts valued at about $26 billion.
The committee has also summoned Managing Director of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) over its involvement in the revocation and re-awarding of the OML 13 without going through the statutory Licensing Bids Rounds, just as it was alleged that the transaction was shrouded in mystery and under-the-table circumstances.
The committee said it has become imperative to carry out a holistic investigation into the revocation as Nigeria cannot afford another Malabu Oil Producing Lease (OPL) 245 scandal at a time the country is struggling to navigate out of recession.
Speaking in Abuja yesterday, committee chairman, Samuel Anyanwu, warned that Senate will issue a warrant of arrest on the SPDC Managing Director if he fails to appear.
Anyanwu said the committee will issue a warrant of arrest on him against the backdrop that the chief executive officer of SPDC had been invited three times by the committee and he failed to appear. He assured that the Senate will do everything possible to block all the conduits being used to syphon the country’s resources.
He said even though there was nothing wrong with inviting foreign investors, the action must, however, not kill or swallow indigenous companies.
Agbakoba asks court to sack Buhari as petroleum minister
Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Olisa Agbakoba has asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to remove President Muhammadu Buhari as Minister of Petroleum Resources.
Buhari first appointed Ibe Kachikwu as Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation on August 4, 2015.
The president also named Kachikwu minister of state.
On July 4, 2016, the president removed Kachilkwu as NNPC GMD and appointed him as NNPC board chairman.
In a suit which the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Shehu Malami, is listed as respondent, Agbakoba has asked the court to determine if Buhari can hold the ministerial portfolio without Senate confirmation.
He said the chaos at the NNPC would not have happened if the president was not petroleum minister.
“I verily believe that the governance chaos in the NNPC could not have occurred if the president is not also the minister of Petroleum Resources.
“I am aware that the NNPC provides up to 90 percent of the revenue accruing to Nigeria.
“I am worried that the crisis in the NNPC will greatly reduce Nigeria’s revenue-generating capacity and will affect the revenue distributable to federal, state and local governments in Nigeria.
“This will gravely affect development nationwide and drastically impact one and all Nigerians, including those in Anambra State (my state of origin) and Lagos State (my state of residence).
“I looked at section 138 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, and I verily believe it disqualifies the president from holding executive office, including that of the minister of petroleum resources, during his tenure of office as president.
“I also know that the president did not go through (any) nomination process and confirmation by the Senate, before holding the office of minister of Petroleum Resources
“I, again, looked at section 147 (2) of the 1999 Constitution and I verily believe it prohibits anybody from holding the office of a minister of the Federation, without confirmation by the Senate.”
Regardless, the case has not been scheduled for hearing.
Agbakoba had earlier filed a suit against the government challenging the composition of the NNPC board, at a Federal High Court in Abuja.
He asked the court to dissolve the board because it is illegal.
The court has also not fixed any date to hear the suit.