26 March 2014

Nigeria: Reps Uncover Another Diezani's State-Sponsored Private Jet

Photo: Vanguard

Barely a week after the House of Representatives raised the alarm that the minister of petroleum, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, had spent about N10billion of public funds on the maintenance of a Challenger Jet for her private use, it has been gathered that she also maintains another jet for international trips only which is estimated to gulp about €600,000 per trip.

The House last week, while acting on a motion raised by Hon Samuel Adejare (APC, Lagos), mandated its committee on Public Accounts to investigate whether Diezani actually spent taxpayers' N10billion on maintaining a private jet which costs €300,000 per trip.

LEADERSHIP however gathered last night that documents obtained by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in the course of its investigation revealed that the minister also allegedly maintains another jet for international flights and it costs as much as €600,000 per trip.

The document, according to a source in the committee who spoke on condition of anonymity since the probe is ongoing, said the panel is in possession of a flight manifest of the chartered jet whose registration number is OF-LGX GLOBAL EXPRESS, the number of trips it has undertaken, complete with dates and destinations.

He added that the lawmakers have decided to summon people whose names are on the manifest to testify in the investigative hearing on the subject.

The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) yesterday defended the minister on the initial accusation of wasting N10bn on the Challenger jet, saying the corporation reserves the power to maintain such facility in line with its 2004 Act.

While denying operating any private jet for private use of Diezani, NNPC spokesman, Dr Omar Farouq Ibrahim, said no law prohibits it from owning or chartering an aircraft, explaining that the corporation engages third parties for the provision of services outside of its core business.

In a related development, the committee has summoned the accountant-general of the federation, Mr Jonah Otunla, acting governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr Sarah Alade and Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Bright Okogu, to explain why N69.6 billion oil subsidy fund is unaccounted for.

In a bid to exonerate itself from any wrongdoing, NNPC officials had told members of the committee that the money in question was never cash-backed and had made efforts to make the Budget Office and AGF write formally to affirm this position to no avail.

Responding, chairman of the committee, Hon Solomon Olamilekan Adeola (APC, Lagos) gave the NNPC leave to write a formal letter explaining the non-receipt of the said N69.6 billion subsidy fund.

He also summoned the CBN, AGF and Budget office to explain why such sum of money was disbursed without any documentary evidence.

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