Reps Re-Open Malabu Probe Over $1.1bn OPL Sale | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Reps Re-Open Malabu Probe Over $1.1bn OPL Sale

malabu, SNEPCo, House of Representatives, Budget; poverty
Posted: Oct 6, 2016 at 4:55 am   /   by   /   comments (1)

By Ahmed Musa.

ABUJA – Following discovery that the probe into the payment of $1.1 billion to Malabu Oil from the sale of Oil Prospecting Lease (OPL) 245 to Shell Petroleum as carried out by the 7th House was inconclusive, the Yakubu Dogara-led 8th House has commenced a fresh investigation into the transaction.

According to the chairman of the ad-hoc committee which began its investigation on Wednesday, Abdulrazak Atunwa (APC, Kwara), it’s mandate was to establish the circumstances surrounding the transfer of the money realised from the sale of Nigeria’s most profitable oil well to Malabu by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Allison-Madueke, and her Justice counterpart, Mohammed Adoke, had allegedly made the questionable transfer to Malabu Oil which was said to have initially short-changed the country by several millions of dollars under the Abacha regime when it bought the well for just $20 million.

However, attendance at the hearing gave the committee cause for concern with lawmakers threatening to adopt a hard-line posture against agencies and organisations trying to undermine its authority.

Reacting to the failure of invited stakeholders to attend the hearing, Razak Atunwa said the committee was in receipt of a letter from the Attorney General of the Federation, stating reasons why he couldn’t be present.

On the part of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Aliyu Yusuf, who represented the acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu, said it was after their arrival at the House they became aware of what was required of them.

“It was this afternoon when we came here that I knew for the first time that the EFCC will be making submission regarding relevant documents. And since we have known, we will provide necessary information regarding what we know concerning this issue, because this is a very important assignment that you are undertaking”, Aliyu said.

However, his excuse was not sufficient for a member of the committee, Kehinde Odeneye (APC, Ogun), saying: “Since you are here to represent Mr. Chairman, you must have been told that you were coming before an investigative committee of the House, and that alone should have prompted you to make adequate preparations.

“But since you have apologised, we will require you to make all relevant documents in your possession regarding this matter available to the committee before your next appearance, thank you”, he said.

Committee chairman reacted, saying, “We are aware that the chairman of the EFCC is somebody who’s doing a lot in the fight against corruption and we commend the organisation for its hard work. However, we are not saying that he must be here in person, but whoever he’s appointing to represent the commission must be well equipped to answer all of our questions regarding what the commission knows about this case. We, therefore, give you seven days”, he said.

But the EFCC official pleaded for extension, appealing that the committee gives them 14 working days which was granted with agreed appearance date set on October 18 with further disclosure that “the committee will not leave any stone un-turned as it has written and obtained response from the Crown Prosecution Service in the UK and they have obliged us with necessary information on this case. So ensure that what you will make available does not contradict the facts at our disposal”.

On the part of Shell, the chairman said the organisation wrote to the committee, saying that it has no powers to investigate the matter before it.

On this, Shell Nigeria Energy Company (SNEPCO) legal representative, Dafe Agbede (SAN), said he just arrived the country the night before and was just briefed on the matter via the committee chairman’s presentation, adding that he needed some time to study the committee’s request and make necessary responses as appropriate.

Odeneye again intervened, expressing dismay why the man would come before the parliament to ask for time to study request even when the managing director of the company was sitted right there.

He said the committee if made to tow the line would amount to an intention on the part of SNEPCO to frustrate the investigation.

“I’m not too happy listening to your submission, because we are trying to do what affects every Nigerian including yourself. And I’m surprised that the MD is sitting right beside you, and yet you said you have not been briefed, even when Chief Richard Akinjide (former Legal Adviser) had forwarded his response on this matter. Already there’s a communication from your organisation saying that the committee can’t probe it”, he vented.

Speaking on the development, Atunwa said: “My advice to SNEPCO is to respond to our request unless it wants to tell the people of Nigeria that there are things that are hidden and it doesn’t want the people to know. And if it fails to oblige, we will be forced to deploy our powers to issue a bench warrant on its leadership”.

Also absent at the hearing were AA Oil and Gas, the NNPC and Malabu Oil against whom the committee threatened to take decisive action including the issuance of bench warrants.

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