New facts have emerged on how Northern Senators are frustrating Senate President, Bukola Saraki’s mandated Joint Committees on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), Petroleum Resources (Upstream) and Gas, from probing an alleged N10 trillion subsidy fraud.
The probe was expected to cover the tenures of three former Presidents, namely: Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, and Goodluck Jonathan.
As President, Obasanjo served as the substantive Minister of Petroleum Resources for almost eight years.
The late President Yar’Adua also served in that capacity as Minister of Petroleum Resources. Jonathan, on the other hand, relinquished the position, but could still be held responsible as Commander-in-Chief..
Currently, President Muhammadu Buhari serves in that capacity as Minister of Petroleum Resources, while Ibe Kachikwu, holds sway as the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources.
Senator Kabiru Marafa, is the Joint Committee Chairman, Down Stream; Senator Tayo
Alaosoadura, heads the Upstream; and Senator Albert Bassey Akpan, chairs Gas. They were all to co-chair the probe.
Saraki had also mandated the Joint Committees to exhaustively review and investigate the NNPC over its accounts, relating to fuel subsidy and the abuse of productS marketing and distribution, between 2006 and 2016.
Charging the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) to conduct a holistic investigation, Saraki had said: “A situation where individuals do what they like and are not accountable to anybody, should be stopped. The Committee should do a thorough job, and ensure that they get to the root of this issue. The thing borders on the issue of corruption, which has been affecting the country negatively.”
A few days after the marching orders were given, Marafa, alongside Alaosoadura and Akpan, told Newsmen that the NNPC got about N5.3 trillion within the period, while Independent Marketers received 3.8 trillion. They revealed that an outstanding debt of about N600 billion owed to Independent Marketers, was part of the total N10 trillion.
This is coming at a time when the NNPC is being accused of lop-sidedness in its recent redeployment of its staff.
The Igbo socio-political organisation, Ohanaeze, said the move was a reflection of the “consistent disdain” for the South-East by the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Findings have however, shown that the Heads of the three Joint Committees, have been prevailed upon to jettison the probe.
It was learnt that Senators, predominantly from North-West and the leadership of the NNPC, including the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, prevailed on Marafa, who hails from Zamfara State, to suspend the move.
Multiple sources from the three Committees said that they had already concluded arrangements to commence the probe, and that letters had been dispatched to the various parties involved to appear, but were told to put everything on hold, without any explanation.
It was learnt that the Lawmakers and top echelons in the NNPC moved against the probe, over fears that it could be extended to the administrations of late Yar’Adua and Buhari, who both hail from Katsina State, North-West.
“The original intention was to drag President Jonathan and his former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke”, the source said.
The Lawmaker said members of the Committee from the South-East and South-South, at a pre-public hearing meeting, insisted that subsidy payments made since 1999, be probed.
He said Senators from the South-West and North-West kicked. The senator revealed that it was at this point that Marafa, who chairs the Joint Committee, ended the meeting abruptly, so as to report to the Northern caucus.
The member of the Upper Chamber noted that Saraki has been briefed on the issue, and that he told the Lawmakers to stay action, until the Senate resumes later this month.
At the moment, it cannot be authoritatively stated whether or not the probe will go ahead, or will be finally jettisoned by the Red Chamber.