By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
The House of Representatives has uncovered how oil companies in Nigeria export crude oil for refined petroleum products but fail to account for the by-products.
At the resumption of the hearing of the House special adhoc committee on petroleum products subsidy regime in Nigeria from 2017 to 2021, the lawmakers were shocked upon discovery that operating companies don’t account for by-products.
The lawmakers lamented that despite the cost of the by-products which they noted was higher than crude itself, oil companies were shortchanging Nigeria by failing to give account of what becomes of the products.
The head, business development of Hyde Energy, an oil company, Abdulwahab Useni who appeared before the committee stood his ground as he refused to disclose to the lawmakers how the company makes profit from crude export and import of refined products.
Despite pressure from members of the committee, Useni who stood in for the managing director of the company, also refused to explain to the lawmakers what happens to the profit of the crude oil by-products.
This compelled Hon, Isiaka Ibrahim to call for a closed-door investigation when invitees failed to make open, relevant information concerning financial transactions.
The committee members as a way of ascertaining both the export and import value of crude and refined products sought to know from Hyde Energy, the countries it exports its crude to.
According to the lawmakers, this will enable the committee to write to embassies of the countries in question to uncover details of such transactions.
In another development, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has said state governors have no basis to complain about the $418 million deductions from the Paris Club refund paid to consultants they hired.
The minister said that the complaints arising from the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) was not only unjustified but “a clear case of absence of defence.”
He spoke when he featured on the Ministerial Media Briefing organized by the Presidential Communications Team on Thursday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The AGF also disclosed that a total of 648 cases instituted against the president, federal government and its agencies, before states, federal and ECOWAS Court were served on the Ministry, adding diligent defences of these cases in the year 2022 alone has saved the government from huge judgment debt liability to the tune of N54,888,343,888.52.
The Ministry has made appreciable progress in the actions being taken to challenge the $10 billion case between Nigeria and the Process & Industrial Development(P&ID) and was able to convince the court to set aside the case which he said may soon commence.
The AGF noted that the governors created the liability whose payment they have also indemnified.
Fielding question on why despite a presidential directive to suspend the deduction from the Paris Club Refund, he has not deemed it fit to enforce the directive as some deductions were said to have been made, he stated that when the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) requested the refund, one of the component was the settlement of the consultants who were engaged by the Forum.
The Minister recalled that when the refund was initially paid to the states, part payment was also made to the consultants.
Malami further disclosed that the governors later decided to stop the payment and asked for an out-of-court settlement.
He said this resulted in a request to the President to make the payment, a request he said, was then passed on to the Office of the AGF for a legal opinion.
The minister noted that after being subjected to necessary checks, it was found that there was no element of fraud involved.
The indemnity of the governors was also sought and received, he disclosed.
“On the issue of Paris Club that is raised. You mentioned that there exists a presidential directive that payments should not be made and then in breach of that position directives payments were perhaps made, may be arising from the conspiracy between the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice payments have been made.
“I think you need to be informed first, as to the antecedents, prevailing circumstances and how the liability arose but one thing I’m happy to state, which I want to reiterate having stated the same earlier, is the fact that the Office of the Attorney General and the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has not indeed incurred any major judgment debt for seven years it has been on.
“Now, coming to the antecedents background of the Paris Club. The liability or judgement debts related to Paris Club was indeed a liability created by the Governor’s Forum in their own right.”
“The Governor’s Forum comprising of all the governors sat down and commonly agreed on the engagement of a consultant to provide certain services for them relating to the recovery of the Paris Club. So, it was the Governor’s Forum under the federal government in the first place that engaged the consultant.
“Two, when eventually, successes were recorded, associated with Paris Club, the governors collectively and individually presented a request to the federal government for the fund. And among the components of the claim presented for the consideration of the federal government was a component related to the payment of these consultants that are now constituting the subject of contention. So the implication of that is that the governors in their own right recognized the consultant, recognized their claim and presented a such claim to the federal government.
“Three, when the claims were eventually processed and paid to the Governor’s Forum. They indeed on their own, without the intervention of the federal government took steps to make part payments to the consultants, acknowledging their liability over the same.
“And then four, when eventually they made such payments at a point they decided to stop the payment. The consultants instituted an action in court against the Governors Forum. They submitted to consent judgment. They asked and urged the court to allow them to settle out of court.
“The court granted them an opportunity to settle. They committed the terms of settlement in writing, they signed the terms of settlement, agreeing and conceding that such payments be made to the consultant.
“And then five, thereafter, the federal government under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari was requested to comply with the judgment and effect payment.
“The President passed all the requests of the governors to the Office of the Attorney General for consideration. I suggested to the President the face value of the judgment and the undertones associated with the consultancy services.
“It was my opinion, the same treatment we meted to P&ID, that let us subject this claim, the consent judgment to an investigation by the agencies of the government. Mr President approved, I directed the EFCC and DSS to look into these claims and report back to the office of the Attorney General.
“And these agencies reported and concluded that there is no problem undertone associated with it. The government may continue to sanction the payment dependent. Now, that was the background.
“Even at that, we took further steps after receiving these reports from the EFCC among others, to demand indemnity from the governors. You, as a forum, incurred this liability, as a forum you submitted to consent judgment. We have subjected these claims to investigation and we have a report, but even at that, we need independent indemnity from you, establishing that it is with your consent and understanding that these payments should be made, in writing.
“And I’m happy to report to you that the governors individually and collectively provided the desired indemnity to the Office of the Attorney General, conceding, agreeing and submitting, that the payment should be made.
“Yes, and that was the ground and the basis on which we eventually decided by advising the president that the payment should be made. And then along the line, there was a change of leadership of the Governors Forum. And all the noise-making that is now being generated arising from the Governors Forum is not only unjustified but indeed, a clear case of absence of defence.
“But one other point of interest you may wish to note is the fact that the new leadership of the Governors Forum instituted an action, even when the federal government was indeed acting based on the judgment of the Supreme Court. They now embarked on a fresh legal suit, challenging the payment, challenging the previous agreement, challenging the indemnity and the court dismissed the application. Their case was dismissed by the Federal High Court.
“So that is the foundation and I’m happy to report one, that the judgment and contention was a judgment that was obtained long before the Attorney General, Abubakar Malami came into office, long before the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari came into office.
“It was a product of their own doing and they had it submitted to judicial proceeding, judgment was entered against them. They have committed to the payment of the money, they have on their own indeed effected part payment. I closed my case and I will not like to answer any further questions on that,” the minister explained.
Police Parade Suspected Killers of Former Benue Judge
By David Trough, Abuja
The Benue State Police Command has paraded four suspects in connection to the murder of Retired Justice Margaret Igbetar, who was murdered in August this year.
State Commissioner of Police, Bartholomew Onyeka who disclosed this while briefing newsmen in Makurdi on Tuesday said the suspects have since confessed to the crime.
According to him, among those who were arrested was a nephew to the deceased, Aondohemba Joseph, adding that Joseph had alleged that Justice Igbetar was holding his father’s property which should have been bestowed on him, but she (Justice Igbetar) had refused to relinquish the said property.
Onyeka said, “You will recall that on 24th August 2023, a case of Culpable Homicide involving the late Justice Margaret Mary Igbetar (rtd) was reported and I had promised to ensure that Justice is served. One Aondohemba Joseph, a nephew of the deceased was arrested immediately.
“A more detailed and advanced investigation started when the case was transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) and handed over to the Operation Zenda investigative team to continue.
The suspect who eventually confessed to having planned and recruited other people to help him in killing his Aunty (Justice Igbetar) led a team of detectives to Adikpo, in Kwande Local Government Area of the state where more suspects were arrested including, Igbazenda Gbidye, 63yrs old and Dzungwenen Ukor, 40yrs old.
“These suspects admitted that Aondohemba Joseph had reported to them that his father died and left so much property in the hands of his aunty (the deceased) and she has refused to hand the said property over to him. They agreed to join him in eliminating her so that he could have access to his property.
“One Akuhwa Barnabas, 32yrs old, a driver to the deceased who was also arrested, corroborated their statements by admitting that he was the one who allowed the gang access to the house and manned the gate for them until they finished the assassination process”, the State Commissioner of Police stated.
Onyeka said commended the people of the state for their patience and cooperation adding that the command would continue to do its best to rid the state of crime
DMO Offers N150bn Sukuk Bond for Subscription at N1, 000 Per Unit
The Debt Management Office (DMO) on Tuesday offered for subscription, Ijarah Sukuk valued at N150 billion.
According to a statement by the DMO, the Sukuk is issued by Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) Roads Sukuk Company PLC, on behalf of the Federal Government.
It said that the Sukuk were offered at N1,000 per unit, subject to a minimum subscription of N10,000 and in multiples of N1,000 thereafter.
“Rental payment is made half-yearly, and bullet repayment is done on the date of maturity.
“Proceeds will be used solely for the construction and rehabilitation of key road projects and bridges across the six geopolitical zones of the country,” the DMO said.
It added that the Ijarah Sukuk was backed by the full faith and credit of the Federal Government.
“It qualifies as securities in which trustees can invest under the Trustee Investment Act.
“Qualifies as government securities within the meaning of Company Income Tax Act and Personal Income Tax Act for tax exemption for pension funds among other investors.
“To be listed on the Nigerian Exchange Limited and FMDQ Securities Exchange Limited, ” it said.
It added that the Ijarah Sukuk was classified as liquid asset by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and certified by the Financial Regulation Advisory Council of Experts of the CBN.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Sukuk is a Sharia-compliant instrument that represents the interests of the owner in an asset or pool of assets.
It ensures that every financial activity is backed by real economic activity, is usually linked to specific infrastructure projects.(NAN)
Release of Chicago Documents Stirs Uproar, Stereotypes, Sarcasm
By Ben Atonko, Abuja
The release of documents by the Chicago State University (CSU) to clear doubts on President Bola Tinubu’s certificates on Monday has caused huge public uproar in Nigeria.
Lawyers and social media users are particularly agog with different views.
While some call it a disgrace to President Tinubu, some say it is a dashed hope for the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar.
The documents contained Tinubu’s admission records, and a letter dated 27 June 2022 confirming that he attended the university from August 1977 to June 1979 majoring in Accounting.The letter said Tinubu was awarded Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with Honours on 22 June 1979. CSU released the school documents to Abubakar.
In his reaction, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Wahab Shittu said Abubakar’s case against President Tinubu in the February 25 election may have collapsed completely.
Shittu is of opinion that the release of Tinubu’s educational results as ordered by Justice Nancy Maldonado of the Northern District of Illinois Court, USA, does not alter the likely outcome of the case.
A subpoena was issued after a federal judge in the United States ordered the university to turn over records pertaining to Tinubu’s time there in the late 1970s.
Tinubu has been accused by Abubakar of falsifying his academic credentials.
Abubakar alleges in court that the documents showing that Tinubu graduated from CSU in 1979 are not authentic and that is grounds to nullify Tinubu’s election victory.
His application sought four categories of documents from CSU, which confirmed Tinubu’s graduation in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.
Following the release of the documents, Shittu said aside from the fact that CSU exists, there is proof that President Tinubu attended the institution, stressing that his claim is not a fabrication.
He said, “The constitutional requirements for qualification to aspire for the presidency is at least school certificate level or its equivalent. The three diplomas issued by the university satisfy this requirement.”
He noted that the university has not denied issuing the certificate issued to the president in 1979 adding that “the school merely says it does not keep duplicate copies of issued certificates.
Similarly, a former Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka in an essay entitled “The US Court Proceedings on Order Directing Discovery from Chicago State University: A National Embarrassment” maintained that however the certificate matter ends, Nigeria has been disgraced.
Chidoka is a staunch member of PDP.
He wrote, “The decision of the District Court and the whole proceedings is not a moment of triumphalism but a sober moment of introspection. It is a moment when as a nation we ask ourselves:
“What are our national values? Who or which institution should have ordered the full investigation of the questionable certificate?
“If the certificate is not forged, the president should conduct a wide-ranging reorganisation of our national security system for failure to save the country from this needless embarrassment and reputational damage.
“If and that is a big if, the certificate is forged, President Tinubu should resign immediately. It is not a legal matter but a national honour and moral issue.
“If he does not, the National Assembly should do the needful to restore our dignity as a people. I also expect the Supreme Court to rise to the occasion and restore order to our electoral process.
“On either count, the National Assembly should start a constitutional amendment process to end all election judicial challenges before the assumption of office of all elected persons at all levels.
“The bold challenge of President Tinubu by HE Abubakar Atiku in the US is the most prominent sign of state failure.
“It is depressing but maybe it is an inflection point to alter the character of the Nigerian state to live up to the words of the second stanza of our old national anthem.”
Social media users also take opposing position, espousing that which suits their narration.
X formerly Twitter and Facebook have been buzzling since. Users lace their comments with stereotypes, sarcasm and abuses.
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