The House of Representatives Adhoc Committee investigating the sale of 48 million barrels of crude oil for over $2.4 billion and crude oil export to global destinations from 2014 to the present has accused the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed Shamsuna of undermining efforts to uncover the theft.
This was disclosed during the investigation’s resumption of hearings by the committee’s chairman, the Honourable Mark Gbillah of Benue.
According to him, both ministers have been recalcitrant despite receiving multiple invitation letters.
“Despite a succession of letters sent to the Ministry of Finance and the Attorney General’s office on the subject of this investigation, we have received no cooperation from them. We’ve seen documentation from the Accountant General’s office indicating that the Minister of Finance sanctioned the payment of a substantial amount of money to so-called “whistleblowers” without providing details on the amount of money recovered.
“According to media reports from the federal government, millions of dollars were recovered through whistleblower revelations on the country’s behalf. But as a legislature, we do not know where these funds were routed through the constitutional appropriation procedure prior to their expenditure. “The Nigerian constitution is very clear regarding the receipt and expenditure of the country’s funds,” he stated.
His committee is curious about the source of the Attorney General’s authority to authorise payment of funds destined for the federation without recourse to the legislature and upon formal request by the executive.
He added, “We have examined the functions of the Attorney General’s office and have found that the constitution does not grant the Attorney General any statutory authority to determine how Nigeria’s funds should be allocated.
“There was an incident involving a whistleblower who made a formal report to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) regarding $200 million paid into the accounts of two companies, Biz Plus and GSCL, allegedly for consulting services, which were allegedly approved by the Attorney General’s office with Mr. President’s approval.
“We require the Honourable Minister of Finance, and the Attorney General of the Federation to appear before this House to provide clarity on the inflows that have come in from whistle blower recoveries, and about these recovered monies, and the CBN is required to provide information that has been provided by these whistle blowers about substantial amounts of money that were paid supposedly and allegedly for consultancy services when there is no record of any agreement.”
“These are very serious allegations, and as a responsible House, we owe everyone a fair hearing and the benefit of the doubt. This is what we have sought to do for those named in these allegations. But we find it inexcusable that the Honourable Minister of Financial and Attorney General of Federation have not bothered to respond to any of the committee’s correspondence. This, in our view, demonstrates a lack of respect not only for the Institution of House, but also for the National Assembly as a whole.
“We will make this additional appeal to the Honourable Minister of Finance, the Attorney General of the Federation, and all others who have not responded to or honoured the Committee’s invitations to do so in the national interest. If they fail to do so, we will be forced to invoke the instrument of summons and all other necessary powers the National Assembly can exercise in this regard.
The chairman stated, “However, we want to make this a formal and final notice to those involved, the Honourable Minister of Finance and the Attorney General of the Federation, to appear before the committee to give evidence regarding the allegations that have been made in relation to the questions the committee has requested for them to answer and respond to.”