Abuja — The National Assembly Joint Committee on Niger Delta Affairs yesterday asked 17 oil companies to explain why they have failed to remit the mandatory three percent of their annual budgets to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Also, less than 24 hours after it returned from a two-week break, the Senate yesterday adjourned plenary by another week to enable its sub-committees to defend their 2020 budget estimates before the main Appropriation Committee.
Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, upon resumption of plenary, announced that the upper chamber would be adjourning plenary till Tuesday, November 5 to enable the sub-committees tidy up their work on the 2020 budget proposals.
The Chairman of the joint committee, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, who spoke when the committee met with top officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), NDDC and Union Bank stated that from the records before the committee the total amount not remitted by the oil firms to both Naira and Dollar accounts of the Commission stood at N72 billion and $273 million respectively.
The committee, he further said, has therefore resolved to invite the chief executives of the oil companies to a meeting next Wednesday to explain their own side of the story.
The lawmaker stressed that the companies are being invited to explain to the National Assembly why they are not obeying the law by their refusal to remit the mandatory three per cent to the NDDC.
His words: "we have invited all the affected oil companies owing NDDC to come and tell lawmakers why they will not obey the law of the country and some of them have confirmed that they are actually owing NDDC"
He gave a breakdown of the debtors to include Nigeria Petroleum Development Corporation (NPDC), a subsidiary of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) owning N54 billion; Allied Energy $43 million and Pan Ocean Oil $46million.
Nwaboshi who expressed dissatisfaction with the failure of oil companies to pay NDDC, said that the Eighth Senate made efforts to ensure prompt payment of money meant for NDDC.
He accused the oil companies of not disclosing their real budget, saying most oil companies tamper with their annual budget.
The affected oil companies include Shebah Express Petroleum, Atlas Petroleum , Allied Energy, Frontier Oil, Seven Energy Limited, Belema Oil Producing Limited, AITECO Exploration and Production, Dubri Oil, Conoil Producing, Continental Oil and Gas.
Others are Enageed Resources Limited, New Cross Exploration and Production, Pan Ocean Oil Corporation Nigeria Limited, Nigeria Petroleum Development Resources, Munipulo Petroleum Development Company, Prime Exploration and Production Company and Nigeria LNG Limited.
Nwaoboshi further disclosed that the committee has also discovered that some money meant for NDDC are in the coffers of the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA), adding that it was wrongly credited into NPA's account and the committee has mandated the CBN to return the money back into NDDC account. Commenting on the federal government's plan to carry out forensic audit of NDDC , the committee Chairman said the panel has also resolved to do full audit of NDDC.
"We welcome forensic audit of NDDC; Eighth Senate did technical audit and our findings is very appalling, we are going to our own full investigation. We have resolved to do full audit of NDDC. "
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari, in a letter dated October 28, has requested for the confirmation of Justice J T Tsoho as Chief Judge of the Federal High Court.
In the two-paragraph letter, the President stated that he was seeking the Senate confirmation of Justice Tsoho in line with Section 259 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).