An ad-hoc committee of the House of Representatives has summoned Nigeria’s minister of finance, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, and the attorney-general of the federation, Abubakar Malami, to provide details about the status of remittances into the federation account and the Whistleblower Protection Bill before the House. The summon was issued during an investigative hearing on the alleged loss of over $2.4 billion in revenue from illegal sales of crude oil, which reportedly involved Oriental Energy Limited, and all crude oil exports and sales by Nigeria from 2014.
The chairman of the ad-hoc committee, Hon Mark Gbillah, gave the ruling at the end of day one of the investigative hearing. Gbillah said the focus of the panel is on the alleged sale of crude in China which was not remitted to the federation account, as well as other related matters contained in the panel’s terms of reference. He further stated that “we are inviting the minister of finance, the attorney-general of the federation, secretary to the government of the Federation, and stakeholders in the implementation of the whistleblower policy to appear before the committee to provide clarification on the operation of this policy and the approvals being made by the finance minister.”
The committee seeks to investigate whistleblower revelations and recoveries made by the federal government, which were reportedly done in complete violation of the provisions of the constitution. There have been allegations that expenditures from these recoveries have not been remitted into the federation account, as required by law. The committee also instructed Oriental Energy Limited to provide all necessary details regarding its involvement in crude oil lifting and sales within the period under review.
The CBN made a formal response to this committee indicating that agencies operate their Treasury Single Account (TSA) and make expenditures from these accounts without recourse to the CBN, which is alarming, as all revenue accruing to the federation must be paid into the federation account.
The speaker of the House, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, expressed the resolve of the 9th Assembly to pass the Whistleblower Bill, urging the panel to turn in its report so as to guide the House in deciding on the Bill. The legislation when passed into law will address a mirage of issues associated with the implementation of the policy as well as take adequate care of the whistle-blowers involved, which is very significant in the success of the policy and law when passed.
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