Reps Summon Minister, NNPC, Others Over $2.4bn Crude Oil Revenue
The House of Representatives Ad-Hoc Committee on Oil Theft has invited several high-ranking officials in the Federal Government over its investigation into the alleged loss of over $2.4billion in revenue from illegal sale.
The illegal business is alleged to have affected about 48 million barrels of crude oil export in 2015.
Some of the officials invited yesterday to answer questions are the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed; and the Secretary General of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.
Also summoned are the acting Accountant General of the Federation, Sylva Okolieaboh; and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), among others.
The committee is also concerned about the disparity in figures from crude oil sales from 2011 to 2014 and is accusing the minister of finance of approving payments to whistle-blowers in variance with the whistle-blower policy.
The ad-hoc committee is investigating a whistle-blower’s allegation of illegal sale of 48 million barrels of Nigeria’s bonny light crude in China in 2015, valued at $2.4billion.
The committee, in February, had accused the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami as well as Interpol, on what it described as interference in the committee’s investigation.
The committee questioned why a whistle-blower would be invited by Interpol on the request of the Ministry of Justice just after the commencement of the investigation of the House.
However, the Head of the National Central Bureau of Interpol Nigeria, Garba Umar, said the Bureau only acted on the request of the AGF.
The Chairman, House Ad-hoc Committee on Oil Theft, Hon Mark Gbillah said, “There is a group called Advocacy for Good Governance and Free Nigeria.
“That is the so-called Civil Society Organisation that wrote to the Attorney General claiming there was this international gang of blackmailers trying to blackmail senior officials of the government.
“How come the Attorney General responded to allegations by a faceless body? That means the Attorney General himself did not ascertain the veracity of any organisation.”
The committee, dissatisfied with the submission of Interpol, accused the AGF of interfering with the investigation of the House.
The committee feared the safety of the whistleblower and insisted that the Ministry of Justice should not be making direct requests to Interpol but should go through the police, as Interpol by law is only expected to respond to requests by local law enforcement agencies.
Judge Warns Against Text Messages In EFCC’s N5bn Suit
Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court, Abuja, has warned those sending him private messages in the N5 billion suit filed by the EFCC against Sen. Stella Oduah and others to desist from intruding into his privacy.
Justice Ekwo gave the warning on Monday during the hearing of the matter.
The judge made this known after counsel for Oduah (1st defendant), Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, and lawyer to Crystal Television Ltd (7th defendant), Ogbu Onoja, SAN, informed that moves were ongoing to resolve the matter without going through trial.
The judge then said: “Somebody has been breaching my privacy on this matter by sending me messages concerning this matter saying it is part of a concerned group.
“I will send security agencies to fish him out. You cannot be intruding into my privacy.”
Justice Ekwo, who condemned the act, said his records were public documents that could be assessed by anybody after the public laws had been complied with.
Responding, prosecuting lawyer, Hassan Liman, SAN, who appeared for the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), also condemned the act.
He said even if the person was a party in the suit, he had no right to communicate with the judge.
Earlier, upon resumed proceeding in the matter, Liman told the court that the matter was slated for formal arraignment of the defendants pursuant to the order made in the last adjourned date.
He said he was ready to proceed.
But Ikpeazu said there were applications they planned to file and that they felt discussion should be had on this with the prosecution.
Onoja, who represented the 7th defendant, also informed the court that his client had approached the anti-graft commission and paid almost 95 per cent of the money alleged in the case.
“We are waiting for the commission’s response and almost about N80 million is remaining,” he said.
Liman admitted that it was true that counsel for the 7th defendant wrote to the EFCC, seeking for the discontinuance of the matter.
“I confirm also that Mr Ikpeazu spoke to me this morning,” he said.
The lawyer, who said that the matter was filed since 2020 said though he agreed that there was reconciliation move, he however argued that the defendants must take their plea once the matter had been filed in court.
“The money we are talking about is over N7 billion,” he added, saying it was not such amount Onoja was making allusion to.
Liman said though a letter had been written, he said the commission had not even considered it, despite making the payment.
He admitted that the delay in the prosecution of the matter was not the court’s fault.
“I urge my Lord to order them to take their plea,” he prayed.
Justice Ekwo, who said he was ready for the arraignment, said it would be better to dialogue with the defendants and if that failed, the trial could commence.
He consequently adjourned the matter until June 15 for report or commencement of trial.
Recall that the EFCC had sued Oduah, former Aviation Minister, alongside Gloria Odita, Nwosu Emmanuel Nnamdi and Chukwuma Irene Chinyere.
Others include Global Offshore and Marine Ltd, Tip Top Global Resources Ltd, Crystal Television Ltd, Sobora International Ltd and others.
The senator, who currently represents Anambra North Senatorial District at the National Assembly, was scheduled to be arraigned on alleged N5 billion fraud and financial misappropriation while she served as minister during President Goodluck Jonathan government.
In the 25-count charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/316/2020, they are accused of conspiracy, money laundering and maintaining anonymous bank accounts with a commercial bank.
RSHA Elects Amaewhule As Speaker
The Rivers State House of Assembly has elected former House Leader and the lawmaker representing Obio/Apkor constituency 1, Hon. Martin Amaewhule as the speaker of the 10th Assembly.
The House also elected the lawmaker representing Gokana constituency, Dumle Mao, as Deputy Speaker.
Amaewhule was elected yesterday after the 10th Assembly was proclaimed by Governor Siminalayi Fubara through a nomination by the lawmaker representing Okrika Constituency, Linda Somiari Stalwart and seconded by Major Jack of Akuku-Toru Constituency.
The Speaker in his speech, shortly after the oath of office, promised a top class Assembly that will come up with legislations that will stand the test of time.
Amaewhule commended members for voting him and assured them of a new assembly that Rivers people will be proud of.
He, thanked Governor Fubara for proclaiming the Assembly and also the immediate past governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, for his developmental strides in the state.
He also thanked the staff of the Assembly for assisting in the business of government.
Amaewhule is currently serving his fourth term as a legislator and was unanimously voted for by all members present.
The governor had earlier dissolved the 9th Assembly based on the constitutional provision as contained in the 1999 constitution as amended.
By: Ike Wigodo
Terrorism: Tinubu’s Charges Security Agencies On Synergy
President Bola Tinubu has charged security agencies in the country to share information in order to combat the negative effects of terrorism.
He said that hoarding such resources would be counter-productive in the fight against the menace.
The president stated this last Monday, during a tour of the new office of the National Security Adviser and facilities at the National Terrorism Centre (NCTC) in Abuja.
He said his administration recognised the relationship between security and economic revival, prosperity and development.
Tinubu said that terrorism is a global phenomenon that must be tackled with all resources in order to eliminate completely.
“If we as Nigerians are looking for economic revival, prosperity and development, then we have to give priority to security.
“What I have seen here is a demonstration of intelligence efforts to counter-terrorism. This must be backed by knowledge.
“Counter-terrorism that is not backed by knowledge and intelligence is not going to be of any service to any nation. We are going to work on that together.
“The effort of the entire armed forces of this country must be put together in a way that there will be one single focus on securing the country,” he said.
Tinubu, who described the tour of facilities at the new ONSA building as very important, said his administration would provide necessary support to the nation’s security architecture.
In his remarks, the NSA, retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, thanked the president for making the visit his first engagement outside the Villa.
He said: “It reinforces his commitment, dedication and inflexible rigidity to ensuring that the security misfortunes of Nigeria and by extension the sub-region are overcome within the shortest possible time.”
Monguno pledged the total commitment and dedication of ONSA to ensuring that the president realises his promises to the people on security.
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