The submission of the probe report into the management of fuel subsidy and its planned debate on the floors of the House of Representatives is set to heat up the polity with the planned move by those indicted to force the removal of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal.
The Post understands that members of the House fear the reports and the anger over the fraud uncovered during the probe may be fuelling angers against the leadership of the House.
A member of the ad-hoc committee Dr Ahmad Ali, cried out over what he claimed was a plan by those affected by the House report to destabilise the House leadership by instigating the impeachment of Speaker.
Today’s debate is coming amidst disaffection caused by the report as many of the affected firms and agencies begin a fight-back.
For instance, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC has challenged the House committee that probed the management of fuel subsidy to prove allegations of misdeed leveled against it.
As the debate of the committee’s begins today, seventeen of the fuel marketing firms indicted by the report are seeking judicial intervention to halt possible implementation of the recommendations.
Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, who is lead lawyer to the companies told has been quoted as saying that the companies would be filing court processes today to demand N100 billion for punitive damages.
Reacting to the finding of the committee that the NNPC made double deductions in its subsidy claims, the corporation denied ever receiving any money in that regard since the inception of the Petroleum Support Fund, PSF.
The Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the Corporation, Dr. Levi Ajuonuma, in a statement yesterday, said that contrary to the allegation contained in the report which accused NNPC of withdrawing from two different sources simultaneously to recover its subsidy claims, the Corporation at no time made such double withdrawals.
“Such a claim is totally unfounded and absurd. We challenge both the CBN and Ad Hoc Committee to provide evidence that such payments as alleged were made to NNPC. They must show authorisation for the payments as well as breakdown of the amount, purpose for the payments, beneficiary accounts in which such payments were made and the utilisation of such payments, he said.
The NNPC Spokesman explained that rather than collecting such payments from CBN as alleged, the NNPC applied such subsidy approvals as credit due to the Corporation towards the cost of its domestic crude allocation.
“For the purposes of clarity, subsidy payment to NNPC is not based on Cash remittance. The mechanics of subsidy recovery by NNPC is not fund based but by way of deduction from crude cost due. As a matter of fact, from the commencement of the subsidy regime there was never a time when CBN paid any money to NNPC in respect of subsidy claim”.
Ajuonuma lamented that despite the fact that all the necessary documents and information were given to the Probe Committee, they could still make this kind of unfounded allegation against the Corporation.
“For instance, NNPC presented to PPPRA approvals for 2011 totaling N981 billion out of which only N844.9billion has been credited to NNPC. But surprisingly, the Committee claimed that PPPRA approved only N504billion and that the balance was excess payment to NNPC .What logic”, he said.
In its general review of the report, the NNPC accused the Committee of causing more confusion, saying that it seemed not to be sure of its action as its intention was really not to clarify the subsidy payments but more interested in maligning and damaging the reputation of the Corporation as well as other key players of the industry.
“The basis for the deduction of both cash calls for Joint Venture operations and NNPC’S subsidy payments as a first line charge on the income of the Federal Government is statutory and founded on the Appropriation Act which was passed by the National Assembly. Under the said Appropriation Act, certain budgetary items including subsidy payments to the NNPC are listed as first line charges on the income of the Federation,” he noted.
The companies that have gone to court based on the House report asking them to refund various amounts of subsidy payments include Mobil Oil Nigeria (N14.934b); Somerset Energy Services (N3.015b); AX Energy Limited (N1.471b); CAH Resources Association Limited(N1.052b); Crust Energy Limited(N1.192b); Fresh Synergy Oil Limited(N1.417b); Ibafon Oil Limited(N4.687b); Techno Oil(N1.036 b);Oil Bath(N1.019bn); Mut-Hass Petroleum Limited (N1.2bn); Stonebridge Oil Limited(N1.784b); Petrotrade (N1.471b); Lucky Energy(N1.7); Rocky Energy(N1.620b); Lottoj Oil(N1.427b); Oakfield Synergy Network Limited(N988m); Prudent Energy and Services Limited(N1.360b); Nepal Oil and Gas Service(N2.353b)
The House report had indicted the companies mainly on the fact that they “refused to appear” before the committee and directed them to refund a total sum of N41 billion.
Sources close to the firms disclosed that the companies saw the report as a grave act of injustice on the fact that they were not invited to appear before they were found culpable.
But sources close to the lawyers of the affected companies confirmed that the oil companies have rejected the report, describing it as lacking fair hearing.
The Companies insisted that besides the fact that they were not invited to appear before the Committee, they were shocked to discover that the Committee went ahead to indict them without hearing from the affected companies.
Lead counsel to the firms, Chief Ozekhome told Vanguard that though he agreed with the House on the need to combat corruption and ensure that those who stole money through subsidy were made to refund same and prosecuted, he would not subscribe to innocent oil marketers being punished without fair hearing.
According to him, the House of Representatives does not have the power to indict, prosecute and punish any oil marketer without being heard.“Some marketers briefed me that they were roped in without being heard. They were not invited to testify, they were tried in absentia and convicted.”