House of Reps blasts

The House of Representatives has vowed to forge ahead with the debates and adoption of the fuel subsidy report which has generated public outrage and triggered attempts by indicted government officials to scuttle the implementation of findings.

The deliberations are scheduled for Tuesday, and is planned to be relayed live television, the House said.

But public discussions remained charged by late Monday about the indictments that have once again put Nigeria’s controversial oil regulator, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), on the spotlight.

The NNPC and sister agency, the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), are worst hit by the report, and are to refund more than N1 trillion to federal coffers, while their officials have been recommended for sack.

Officials of the agency have staged fierce media campaign since Sunday in efforts to counter the indictments, and as the House said, undermine the outcome of Tuesday’s debates.

The NNPC Corporation accused the House of doctoring the reports, and on Monday, an aide said Petroleum Minister, Diezani Allison-Madueke, who heads its board, and the corporation’s group managing director, Austin Oniwon, will not step down.

The House on Monday hit back on the corporation, accusing it of lying, and branded the agency’s voluble spokesperson, Levi Ajuonuma, the “chief denial officer.” The lawmakers pushed back the allegations it tampered with the reports, questioning what logic it makes to be accused of “doctoring” its own report.

“For the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), claims that the Ad hoc committee report may have been altered to embarrass it (the NNPC), is only in tandem with the current reckoning of its spokesman as a “chief denial officer”, the House said in a statement signed by spokesperson, Zakari Mohammed.

“The corporation must have been in possession of another version of the report for it to assert that the one officially laid before the House of Representatives on Wednesday, April 18, 2012 was altered,” the statement said.

The House described the corporation’s position, and the purported legal action instituted against it by a group of 18 indicted marketers as “an orchestrated plot to scuttle the findings of the committee.”

Mr. Mohammed said the moves only attempted to “impugn” the credibility of the report and its recommendations.

“Coming under various guises, including but not limited to buck-passing and alleged non-invitation to the investigative hearing, several of them are desperately seeking to undermine the outcome of the report consideration billed for tomorrow (Tuesday).”

He urged Nigerians to dismiss those concerns and to be “vigilant and wary of those who would rather that the country continues to be run in the usual corruption-laden way, which put unmerited resources in individual pockets at the expense of the people.”

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