House Of Reps Begins Investigation Of NNPC’s Oil Swap Agreement

House-of-Representatives-NigeriaThe House of Representatives has started investigating the oil swap agreement by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Giving its presentation on Tuesday, the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), represented by the Executive Secretary, NEITI, Ogbonnaya Oji,  told the ad-hoc committee of the House of Representatives on Oil Swap Contracts, that “the Federal Government is estimated to have lost over 1.1 billion dollars in 2012 to crude oil offshore processing and swap arrangements”.

The Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Mr Tunde Fowler, also informed the committee that the Federal Government had lost over 1.1 billion Naira revenue to the crude oil arrangement.

It was the opening day of the two-day investigative hearing into the crude oil swap deal of the NNPC.

Welcoming participants to the hearing, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Yakubu Dogara, said the country’s economy called for a change.

Before the hearing began, the Chairman of the ad-hoc Committee on Oil Swap Contracts, Zakari Mohammed, outlined some of the issues for consideration.

The Assistant Comptroller General, Tariff and Trade, Sule Alu, also appeared before the committee.

The hearing held for over five hours, as the lawmakers and the agencies discuss the figures and other information provided.

The hearing is expected to continue on Wednesday when the NNPC, the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company and oil companies involved in the arrangement will appear before the committee.

NASS Spokesman Describes Police Act As “Shameless”

MohammedSpokesman of the House of Representatives, Zakari Mohammed recounting Thursday’s pandemonium at the National Assembly, described the act of the police as “shameless”, noting that the sponsors of the act should be questioned as well as their intention.

Security agents including the Police and the SSS had barred members of the House of Representatives from entering the National Assembly and had also attacked them using tear gas.

However the security apparatus had explained that “the police deployed its personnel to the premises of the National Assembly following an intelligence report of a likely invasion of the House by hoodlums and thugs”.

In reaction, Mr. Mohammed insisted that a notice should have been given to that effect and should have been done properly.

“If you are coming to a man’s house to protect him you should give him notice, because of certain threats, you are here to protect and should be done in an orderly manner” he said.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, Mr. Mohammed noted that every member has an I.D card and the police should have stopped members at the entrance to check I.D cards, wondering if thugs would dress properly like lawmakers.

He further questioned why the Senate president, David Mark was allowed to pass without security checks and the Deputy Leader, stating that “the same gate was where the Senate President passed through and his deputy but the Speaker of the House of Reps was prevented from entering through same gate”.

Mr. Mohammed complained of the hooded officers that were at the gate, pushing the Speaker and preventing him from gaining entrance.

“If you’re coming to perform a legitimate duty the essence of the uniform is for your name tag and service number to display, but with this kind of hooded men it can just be anybody and its disturbing especially in a democratic dispensation” he noted.

Mr. Mohammed further noted that ideally the lawmakers are supposed to punish the police for such an act.

Lawmaker Stresses Need For ‘Political Will’ To End Insurgency

Zakari MohammedA member of Nigeria’s House of Representatives has stressed the need for every government official and Nigerians to show the political will needed to end the security challenges in the north-east.

The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Media, Honourable Zakari Mohammed, said on Friday that the security challenges would only be solved with more efforts and sincere commitment to ending the insurgency by members of the Boko Haram group.

Mr Muhammed, during an interview with Channels Television’s correspondent, Lanre Lasisi, in Abuja, the nation’s capital emphasised the need for an emergency to be declared on the security sector and for the lawmakers to be briefed on a steady basis on the efforts that were being made.

“We need to know how far they have gone, what are the impediments, how can we come in? Regardless of our political affiliations, I believe that this is the time for us to come together and address the issue.

“We should be more concerned about containing the insurgency by showing more political will,” the lawmaker said.

He also stated that the House would consider any document from the national conference if it is sent to them by President Goodluck Jonathan, but stressed that any request for tenure extension would not be entertained..

N10bn Private Jet: Reps Give Allison-Madueke Fresh Summons, Lawyer Protests

Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke
Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke

The House of Representatives Committee on Public Account has issued fresh summons to the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Deziani Allison-Madueke, to appear before it over the alleged expenses of 10billion Naira on private jets.

Also summoned are the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Andrew Yakubu; Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Engr. Saleh Dunoma; the Managing Director of Pipeline and Petroleum Products Marketing Company, PPPMC, Mr Haruna Momoh; Vistajet International Limited and other stakeholders.

The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Zakari Mohammed, said that all those summoned were to appear between June 15 and 17 to shed light on various aspects of the alleged N10 billion expenses.

He added that anyone who refuses to appear would face a subpoena under the law.

You Can’t Probe Deziani For Now, Lawyer tells House

Meanwhile, Constitutional lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozekhome, has warned the House of Representatives against making any move to resume probe of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, on the alleged N10B aircraft charter scam.

The senior lawyer asked the House to put the probe on hold for now since the Minister has a legal action before a Federal High Court in Abuja, challenging the legality of the House of Representatives’ decision on the over-sight function.

In a letter of protest delivered to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambawal, Mr Ozekhome faulted the announcement of the fresh move to begin the probe, warning that the move would amount to an affront to the law court where the legal action was pending.

The human rights activist, in the letter also copied to the Senate President, Senator David Mark, said that the practice in the world especially in a civilized society is for both parties in a dispute to take their hands off the disputed matter once a law court has been invited for adjudication on the issue.

He said that it was wrong and abnormal for the House to proceed to probe the Minister even when the House has already joined issued with her in a law court of record and in competent jurisdiction.

Senate, Reps Divided Over Extension Of State Of Emergency

court_gavel-205x120One major issue that dominated deliberations at the National Assembly during the week (May 12-16) is the state of emergency in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa states.

President Goodluck Jonathan sent a letter to both chambers asking for the extension of emergency rule in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa states for another six months.

In a letter addressed to the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, President Jonathan said while substantial progress has been made to contain insecurity and restore normalcy in the three affected states, the security situation that necessitated the proclamation of the state of emergency was yet to abate.

This is the second time President Jonathan is seeking an extension of emergency rule in the three states. President Jonathan first proclaimed the state of emergency on May 14th 2013.

The emergency rule in the three states was later extended in November 2013 for another six months. But this recent request for an extension was not immediately granted by the national assembly.

The senate stood down the debate on the emergency rule insisting that they would have to meet with the security chiefs to assess the impact of the emergency rule that had been in place.

But even before the meeting with service chiefs, the caucus of northern lawmakers has made their position clear that they would not be voting in support of an extension of emergency rule.

The Senate did in fact meet behind closed doors with the service chiefs and would be voting on the extension of emergency rule next week.

Meanwhile in the House of Representatives, the debate on the extension was intense to say the least.

Lawmakers said the decision over an extension of emergency rule would be tough as the arguments against it are strong despite the many voices in its favor.

The argument in favor of the extension was that it would send wrong signals if the state of emergency is lifted now that strong support has been offered by the international community to tackle the insurgency in the area.

However most lawmakers from Borno and Yobe rejected the request saying the state of emergency has not achieved its purpose as the massacre and destruction there have continued unabated.

The House of Representatives met with service chiefs for more than two hours over issues surrounding the extension of state of emergency in the three north eastern states.

Despite what seemed like a unanimous decision, there were dissenting voices by some lawmakers who argued that it is unjustifiable and an outright imposition.

N10b Jet Probe: We Are Exploring Other Legal Options- Tambuwal

Aminu-Tambuwal3The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, has said that investigations into the N10 billion alleged bill on chartered jets by the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Missus. Diezani Alison- Madueke is not over yet despite the court action instituted against the House by the Minister.

Tambuwal spoke at plenary on Tuesday while ruling on a point of order brought on the floor by a member, Omosule Eniolorunda, who drew the attention of the House to the fact that the court ruling on the suit filed by Alison-Madueke and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was insufficient to stop the House from continuing with its probe on the minister.

Tambuwal said the House has sought legal opinion on the next line of action to take and directed that the House Committee on Public Accounts maintain a stay of action on the investigation until that is received.

Court Summons House Over Order

A Federal High Court  in Abuja has summoned the House of Representatives to explain how it came about  the purported order which stopped it from going ahead with the probe of the Petroleum Minister.

An angry Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed said on Tuesday he was embarrassed when he woke up to see a barrage of newspaper headlines claiming that he granted an order restraining the House of Representatives from probing the minister.

In Tuesday’s proceeding, ‎Justice Mohammed demanded an explanation from the lawyer to the Petroleum Minister and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Etigwe Uwah, for the source of the information adding that the House ‎of Representatives should take the blame.

Uwah dissociated himself from the reports and told the judge that the House was the source of the information.

He produced a statement allegedly issued by the Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Publicity, Mr Zakari Mohammed, purporting to show that the court had restrained the House from going ahead with the probe.

Uwah said he was equally shocked, as he received several calls and text messages asking him for clarification on the purported court order.

The judge, therefore, summoned the House of Representatives to appear before it on May 5 with the court order issued by him restraining the House from carrying out the probe.

The House of Representatives is probing the Minister for allegedly spending N10 billion in maintaining chartered aircraft in two years.


Sanusi’s Suspension: House Of Reps Expresses Concern About Due Process

The House of Representatives on Monday stressed its stand in the on-going controversy over the suspension of the Central Bank Governor by President Goodluck Jonathan.

Through its spokesman, Zakari Mohammed, the lawmakers pointed out that they had nothing against the president for exercising his powers under the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Act to remove the CBN Governor.

“We are concerned that people read that CBN Act just by half and then stop. That is worrisome,” he said.

Speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily on Monday, Mr Mohammed expressed the House’s concern about the President’s disregard of the rules of removing the CBN Governor, as stated in the CBN Act.

“Section 11(2F) of the Act states categorically that the CBN Governor can be removed provided it’s supported by two-third majority of the Senate and in this case, we don’t know whether a communication has been sent to the Senate, requesting the removal of the CBN Governor. That is what we are worried about,” he said.

He further stated: “We, in the House of Representatives, want institutions to be built and not individuals. We are not bothered by all the misconducts put together. We are worried about the process of removal because if we as the parliament brought out an Act in 2007 and the Act is being abused, we should stand by it and insist that the right thing should be done.”

Mohammed, who stressed that the President had the right to remove Sanusi, insisted that such an act must be approved by the Senate before it was carried out, contrary to assertions of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozekhome, who had aired his views earlier on the programme.

He further accused the President of being selective in the laws he chose to follow as he had sent the names of his nominees to the National Assembly following the suspension which he went ahead to execute without due process.

“The House of Representatives is not saying that a public officer should not be sanctioned but we are saying that the right procedure should be followed,” he said.

Reps to probe Otedola’s N141 billion debt

The House of Representatives, on Monday night, said it would probe the alleged debt of N140.9 billion, being outstanding debt of a businessman, Femi Otedola, to Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Zakari Mohammed, in a statement, said “we have observed with interest, the payment of N140.9 billion, being outstanding debt of Mr Otedola to AMCON. This payment was credited to AMCON’s Managing Director, Mustafa Chike-Obi.

“Obi confirmed that AMCON board met on Thursday and approved the transfer of the business-man’s assets, as well as undisclosed cash to AMCON as full payment and final settlement of Otedola’s liabilities,” he noted.

“The seventh House of Representatives would, on return from its one-week oversight tour, constitute a committee to investigate the amount and the assets so transferred to AMCOM.

“It is imperative to state that with the state of our economy, this transaction was done with confidentiality and secrecy.

“It is curious that AMCON, being a government establishment which is under the purview of the National Assembly, could do that without the knowledge of the House.

“To say the least, the procedure is not acceptable. The National Assembly would be interested in getting full details of the transaction,” it read.

Lawmaker says CBN contradicts itself on cashless policy and proposed N5000 note

The chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Media, Zakari Mohammed, on Thursday condemned the policy of  Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the proposed N5000, wondering if the CBN is insisting on migrating Nigeria to a cashless economy, “why then is the same CBN proposing the creation of the N5000 denomination? he asked.

He further stated that this does not only show confusion but shows contradiction on the part of the CBN, adding that “such a move as at now is not necessary” he said, speaking on behalf of the House of representatives.

Mr. Mohammed added that the resolution of the House of Representatives is always respected despite claims that the House resolutions are not bidding on the executive arm of government.

Reps deny 56% budget implementation, claims only 34% so far

The House of Representatives has described as untrue claims by the federal government that it has implemented 56 percent of the 2012 budget.

At a press conference in Abuja on Sunday, the Spokesman of the House of Representatives Zakari Mohammed stated that only implemented 34 percent of the budget has been implemented.

The Federal Executive Council on Wednesday via the Minister of Finance confirmed that the implementation of the 2012 budget has reached 56% from 39% as at the end of May.

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala further revealed that the 56% represents N324 billion of the N404 billion so far released.

Reacting to the planned impeachment threats by the lower legislative chamber to President Jonathan if the budget implementation is not at 100% before September, the former World Bank Manager stated that “there is nowhere in the world where budget is implemented 100% by September” insisting that from her experience the least any country has done is 80%.

Mr Mohammed at the press conference also noted that contrary to claims by the Minister of Finance, the introduction of constituency projects by the National Assembly is not the reason for the slow pace of the implementation of the budget.

He also said the House was not going back on its resolution to commence impeachment proceedings against President Goodluck Jonathan if he failed to achieve 100 per cent implementation of the budget by September.

The minister’s claim came as part of government’s responses to the threat to commence impeachment proceedings against Jonathan.

Mohammed noted that by the finance minister’s statement, only N324bn of the N404bn released so far for capital project had been cash-backed in July.

He said, “This was the grouse of the House. We are in the seventh month, going to the eighth month of the year; out of N1.5tn, you have cash-backed only N324bn. That is not good enough; that is the point that is being made. The budget performance is not encouraging.”

“It is not true that the Executive arm has implemented as at today 56 per cent of the 2012 budget as widely reported.

“In truth, about 34 per cent of the budget has been implemented. What the minister admitted to, as can be confirmed from her own words, is that, at best government has implemented 56 per cent of the N404bn released to MDAs.

The House of Representatives had two weeks ago, threatened to impeach President Goodluck Jonathan over the failure to implement the budget.

Motion to impeach Jonathan is for national interest – Reps

Members of the House of Representatives on Monday disclosed that the decision to impeach President Goodluck Jonathan by September, if the 2012 budget is not fully implemented, is for national interest.

According to a Statement released and signed in Abuja by the House spokesman, Zakari Mohammed, the lawmakers’ decision was informed by the fact that the growth in the economy has not reflected in the well-being of Nigerians.

The statement reads: “This bold and patriotic step by the Seventh Assembly has attracted different comments from a lot of quarters, expectedly. Therefore, some sponsored news, editorials and commentaries choose to deliberately misinform the public on the rationale behind our nationalistic stand, for the avoidance of doubt, whilst we are aware that all revenue-generating agencies have surpassed their annual target by mid this year.

“We in the Legislature are lawmakers and not contractors and the constituency projects execution has been the exclusive preserve of the executive and its agencies. At no time has there been any argument on this.
“Similarly, what members do in the course of the budget preparation is to furnish the respective MDAs with locations and areas of needs of our constituencies.

“The bidding processes are handled by the supervising ministries. The entire 360 members in the House are bound by the Nigerian project, our independence and objectiveness is evident in the selection of our principal officers which we did according to our thoughts.

“To assume that we are guided by some forces outside the House of Representatives is mischievous and a deliberate ploy to misrepresent the House before the Nigerian public”.

“To now conclude that our resolution on Thursday is borne out of selfish motives is terribly out of place, We would, however, continue to raise our voices to the highest ebb where we sight injustice or impunity; no amount of blackmail or intimidation would cow us to abdicate our constitutional responsibility which we signed with our employers (the Nigerian people) to stand firm and protect their interest,” Mohammed said.