The Senate Committee on Gas on Friday said major stakeholders’ absence at its investigative sitting on the alleged $1 billion pipeline contract, saying it was a setback to the committee.
The Chairman of the committee, Bassey Akpan, told News Agency of Nigerian in Abuja that Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Total Nigeria Plc led the oil companies and other stakeholders that failed to appear at the session on Thursday.
He said the committee was forced to adjourn the session due to poor attendance by those expected to defend their levels of involvement in the allegation.
According to him, the development has set the committee back as we ought to submit our report before the National Assembly proceeds on its annual break on July 26.
The lawmaker disclosed that while Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) obtained permission for absence, other stakeholders did not do so or were represented by officers below the rank of Managing Directors, adding that it was unacceptable.
“We have been investigating the astronomical cost of completing two major gas pipelines – Northern Option Pipeline (NOPL) and Obite-Ubeta-Rumugi (OUR) Pipeline by Total.
“We have been on this investigation for a couple of months now. Only recently we had an on-the-spot assessment of the pipeline, about a 100-kilometre pipeline.
“A section of it is about 26 inches; another section is 22 inches and the 100-kilometre pipeline was completed at the cost of over one billion dollars.
“In view of this, the Senate mandated the committee to investigate the matter.
“The meeting was meant to communicate our findings and who we need to indict on the astronomical cost of completing this major pipeline but it did not hold.
“NNPC was not there, NAPIMS was not there and the MD of Total was not there.
“As you know, it is the tradition of the Senate not to attend to anyone below the rank of a Managing Director or Group Managing Director or Deputy Managing Director,” he said.
The lawmaker said the meeting was adjourned until Thursday, and urged those involved to be in attendance unfailingly.
He said, “We had to adjourn the meeting for one week owing to the fact that we are embarking on annual recess soon and this report must be laid before we proceed.
“This report must be laid at plenary so that we can concentrate on other legislative activities.
“We urge all the relevant stakeholders to ensure that by Thursday, next week, everybody is in attendance so that we can communicate our findings and recommendations to all the major stakeholders.
“We give them the benefit of the doubt till Thursday.”
The mandate for the committee to investigate the $1 billion contract for the construction of OUR and NOPL was given to the committee in August, 2016.