House of Representatives, on Thursday, set up an ad hoc committee to investigate the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL over alleged diversion and conversion of N20bn by its officials in the guise of payment to consultants.
This is despite the NNPCL denying the allegation earlier on Monday.
The Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Banking and Currency, Hafis Kawu, had moved a motion of urgent public importance, urging the chamber to probe into the alleged crime.
Moving the motion titled ‘Urgent Need to Investigate the Conversion of N20 Billion by Staff of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation(sic),’ Kawu partly said,
The House is informed that staff of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation are reported to have diverted the over N20bn in the guise of consultancy fees paid to its consultants
Kawu stated that the alleged action by the NNPCL officials breached Section 88(1) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution, which, among other things, made it compulsory for the National Assembly to appropriate public funds before they were expended.
The lawmaker also stated that the funds should have been spent on public needs.
Kawu called for an urgent investigation of the matter and that the House should be briefed on the outcome as a matter of urgency.
The lawmakers unanimously adopted the motion.
Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, consequently set up a panel chaired by a member of the Peoples Democratic Party from Rivers State, Kingsley Chinda, which was expected to turn in its report within three weeks.
The NNPCL had on Monday night said it did not pay N20bn to ghost consultants as alleged by an online medium (not The PUNCH).
A statement issued by the Chief Corporate Communications Officer, NNPCL, Garba-Deen Muhammad, had partly read,
NNPC Ltd read with utmost dismay, a report by an online platform alleging: paying the sum of N20bn to ghost consultants, and theft of multi-billion naira tax due to the Ogun State Government.
The NNPCL wishes to state that as a responsible corporate organisation, it does not have or deal with ghost consultants. At the NNPC Ltd, the process of engaging consultants whenever the need arises is clear and verifiable and follows global best practices.
It is, therefore, unfortunate that for whatever reason, the said the online platform would make such a grievous allegation, mindless of the consequences of such actions. The claim of a missing N20bn is absolutely false and baseless.
The oil firm demanded the online media platform should retract the said publication, stressing that the organisation should verify its facts before going to the press.
The NNPCL said the second component of the said report was related to the Ogun State Government claiming a back duty tax liability of about N18bn, against an NNPC subsidiary, the Petroleum Products Marketing Company Ltd.
The statement added:
For clarity, the PPMC had objected and challenged the claim through its tax consultant. Consequently, the Ogun State government took the matter to court which is not unusual in business circles.
The matter is currently before the court and the NNPC Ltd will prove its case accordingly.
In conclusion, the NNPC Ltd strongly advises the said online publication to be mindful of the consequences of its actions before taking them.
It stated that for a matter that was already in court, as admitted by the online publication, it was sad that any medium could arrive at such a subjudice conclusion as shown by its actions.