The Nigerian senate is not investigating and has no plan to investigate the N155 billion scandal involving Presidential aides; two multinational oil companies; and Malabu Oil, a company owned by former Petroleum minister, Dan Etete; Senate spokesperson, Eyinnaya Abaribe has said.
Mr. Abaribe, who made this assertion in a telephone interview, told PREMIUM TIMES that the Senate could not investigate a matter based on reports in the media.
“This thing has never come up. There is no such investigation anywhere. Do we just wake up and start to do our work based on reports in the newspapers?” the senator queried.
Mr. Abaribe explained that unless a formal petition is brought to the Senate, and debated on the floor of the senate, the senate committee on upstream petroleum, which he belongs to, would not investigate the deals.
“If you have any documentation, make a formal complaint. It is on that basis that the senate will debate it,” he said.
House may investigate
However the mood appears different in the lower chamber where, deputy spokesman of the House of Representatives, Victor Ogene, said that although the matter is yet to be brought to the floor of the house, the lower chamber would not shy away from investigating it when it is brought before it.
“The House of Representatives will not shy away from any case of malfeasance,” Mr. Ogene stated.
The legislator who stated that he had “been taking interest in the reports over the last three days,” explained that some members of the house may “be doing their own discreet investigation,” before presenting it to the full house.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported on how the Federal Government, Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited (Agip) and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (Shell) entered into a secret deal in which the oil companies paid $1.1bn to the Federal Government which was then transferred to Malabu.
Subsequent investigations showed how the Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, and the Minister of State for Finance Yerima Ngama transferred the funds a day before Ngozi-Okonjo Iweala, the finance minister, was to resume office. The money was subsequently transferred to accounts of various Nigerian companies who are believed to be fronts for senior government officials.
Adoke won’t speak
Mr. Adoke who co-authorised the payment to Malabu would not speak on the grounds of such authorization and the circumstances surrounding the deal.
His spokesman, Ambrose Momoh, declined to respond to our enquiry in a telephone interview, merely saying “I may not be able to give you a response.”
Mr. Adoke could not be reached directly on his telephone number.
Okonjo-Iweala schemed out
As reported by PREMIUM TIMES, a top source at the finance ministry confirmed that not only were the payments hurriedly done before the finance minister resumed, she was not briefed on the deal.
“The Minister (Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala) was not briefed about the deal. It was a hush-hush deal. That is why they had to do it 24 hours before she was to resume. Whoever was holding forth for her office should have told her of such payment,” our source said.
Mrs. Okonjo Iweala could not be reached for confirmation as her spokesman, Paul Nwabuikwu, explained that she was out of the country.