Premium Times (Abuja)

Nigeria: More Trouble for Alison-Madueke As Senate Threatens Fresh Summons Over Private Jet, NNPC Deals

Nigeria's embattled petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, may be summoned separately by the Senate over alleged shady deals by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, and her alleged spending of at least N10 billion public funds on chartered private flights, the senate petroleum committee said Sunday.

The House of Representatives is currently probing the allegations.

Mrs. Alison-Madueke is currently President Goodluck Jonathan's most controversial cabinet member and has survived multiple indictments by the National Assembly demanding her removal over alleged mismanagement of the oil sector.

The House of Representatives opened a new round of investigation three weeks back over revelation the minister spent billions of public funds to charter and maintain high end flights for largely personal trips.

The Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) on Sunday threatened to invite the minister to furnish it with those details and those of other NNPC financial transactions.

The committee said the corporation's management had continuously failed to provide the committee with details of its financial transactions, claiming that it was still collating the financial information being required.

The Chairman of the committee, Magnus Abe (PDP-Rivers), said should the NNPC continue to delay submission of the financial records, the committee would be compelled to summon the minister to appear before it with relevant financial details.

He said that the committee required to be furnished with documents relating to the financial dealings of the oil corporation since 2012 as well as the alleged N10 billion private jets.

According to him, some of the issues include crude swap transactions, rehabilitation of refineries, the volume of petroleum products being sold by the Petroleum Products Marketing Company.

"We have not informed the minister of the delay from NNPC and there are issues we know the minister will be involved but not at this point," he said.

"But if we cannot resolve it, we will ask the minister to come with NNPC, but at the moment, it is between the committee and NNPC. We can sort this out.

"We asked about the crude swap transactions to know exactly what volumes are being swapped and what the country is getting in return.

"We also wanted information on the rehabilitation of the refineries to know exactly how far they have gone with those programmes.

"We want information on the aircraft that has now become an issue. We have actually asked for this information since last year and we have not seen that."

While declining to give a deadline for submission of the documents being required, Mr. Abe said the request for the financial details were routine and not out to witch-hunt anybody.

He decried the nonchalant attitude being displayed by the NNPC management which failed to send any representative to a meeting called by the committee last week.

"Oversight also involves taking a detailed look at how things are done, how the country is benefitting from these things and how we can work together to improve what is being done.

"But unfortunately, we have not received the kind of cooperation I would like to see from the NNPC. They said they were still collating this information since last year.

"We still believe they will step up their game and work with us so that we can get the best for the Nigerian people.

"We have given time frames from the start and time frames have not been met, but we believe that this is an issue that neither party will like us to take to the extreme.

"But we don't think that any public corporation that is being oversight by parliament has a right to keep a committee of parliament in the dark," he added.

Mr. Abe said the committee could bring the matter to the attention of the Senate leadership if the NNPC continued to hold back financial details from the committee.

(NAN)

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