Lawyer says Call For Petroleum Minister’s Probe Is Malicious
A Nigerian Lawyer, Liborous Oshomah, has described the call for the probe of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke, for waste of resources on the arbitrary charter and maintenance of a challenger 850 Aircraft for non-official use, as malicious and aimed at scuttling the second term ambition of the Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan.
A member of the Nigerian House of Representatives, Babatunde Adejare, had raised a motion seeking the probe of the minister.
Mr Oshomah said that the way the motion was presented at the floor of the House showed that there was a motive behind the call for the probe.
He explained that, giving the nature of the Oil and Gas industry, which is not confined in an environment, the minister could make use of a charter plane to be able to meet the demands of the industry.
“Most politicians fly charted jet. The local wing of the Abuja airport has been reserved for private jets; about 45 of them. If you want to discuss the issue of private jet, the House should also focus on every individual using private jet in Nigeria and not just a ministry or agency.
“The way the issue is going, gradually, it will go the same way as other motions,” he said, referring to motions centred on corruption that have been raised in the House of Representatives before now.
The management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had reacted to the purported charter of aircraft by the corporation for the personal use of the Minister, saying it did not chartered any aircraft for the exclusive use of the Minister of Petroleum Resources or any particular official of the Corporation.
The NNPC also noted that in consonance with the legal instrument which establishes the Corporation as a commercial entity to engage in the oil and gas sector, the NNPC in course of discharging its statutory and commercial functions engages third parties for the provision of services outside of its core business.
But the lawyer stressed that the NNPC comments showed there could be more questions for the corporation to answer, insisting that both the House of representatives and the NNPC should go beyond window dressing.
“NNPC is like ATM for government and that is why the government will not allow NNPC to run like other organisations,” Mr Oshomah said.
Suggesting what should be done to check the excesses of the corporation, he suggested that the government should make appropriate budget for the NNPC’s expenses to ensure that their expenses are checked.
He also suggested that the government should consider having a national carrier, pointing out that “if that was in place there would be no need for ministers to go chartering jets to take them to where they want to go to”.
He insisted that the minister was being witch-hunted and that the lawmakers should focus on the practice in the industries and not the minister.
“The allegations were just towards 2015 and anything that one can do to win the people’s support,” the lawyer stated.
Mr Oshomah further stressed the need for proper investigation into the allegation, saying that and that the minister should be punished if found guilty.