The House of Representatives, on Thursday, unveiled plans to investigate over 200 accounts being operated by Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Limited with a view to ascertaining the public funds spent on payment of fuel subsidy from 2013 to date.
To this end, the lawmakers resolved to invite the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele and Executive Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Muhammad Nami.
The resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion sponsored by Hon Mark Gbillah who frowned at the incoherent presentation of Mr Emefiele’s Special Assistant, Mr Gabriel Ogunjemiluri, on the issue bothering on the utilisation of N6.7 trillion fuel subsidy within seven months.
Hon Gbillah said: “N6.7 trillion in less than a year is being expended on subsidy. We could expect that the CBN Governor would come here personally to address such an issue and the FIRS chairman as well. I guess they believe this issue is not important enough for them to be here.
“So, Mr Chairman in my own opinion, I don’t think we should bother hearing any of the representatives of these two agencies that are here today. We would like the CBN Governor and FIRS Chairman to be here in person before this honourable committee of the House to address this critical issue.”
On his part, Hon Abdul Ganiyu-Olododo also expressed displeasure over the level of disregard for the Parliament by designating his personal staff to speak on such a critical national issue as well as the CBN Governor who also designated officers below the Directorate level.
He said: “How can a chairman of an organisation like FIRS send an assistant, a Special Assistant for that matter, it is an insult to this institution, number one and sensibility of Nigerians.
“If you look at the seriousness of this assignment; fuel subsidy that involves N6.7 trillion. No! No! It is an insult.
“Mr Chairman I want to suggest that the special assistant should go back and inform the chairman (of FIRS) that the letter written to them request the chairman to appear before this honourable committee with documents.”
While responding to the position of the lawmakers, Mr Kagara who spoke on behalf of the CBN Governor said that he can only answer questions relating to technical issues of subsidy payments, when Ibrahim Aliyu sought his competence on the subject matter of the probe.
He also said the CBN cannot print the documents requested by the committee because they were too voluminous, adding that NNPC has 200 accounts domiciled with the apex bank and they are being asked for.
“If all the questions that you are going to ask are related to technical matters that concern subsidy payments, I will be able to provide answers here but if they are outside the technical aspects of the subsidy transaction then I will not be able to respond.
“With respect to the issue of documents, the truth of the matter is that some of these documents are actually voluminous and we can’t be able to print most of these documents.
“For example in one of your requests, you asked us to produce all the accounts of NNPC that are domicile with the CBN, NNPC are close to 200 accounts with CBN and they are voluminous,” the CBN deputy director said.
While ruling, Hon Aliyu observed: “There are areas that you cannot answer; you see this is the fundamental reason why the senior members of the management are supposed to appear before the committee.
“We are left with no alternative than follow the procedure of the House. Where you cannot provide hardcopies (requested documents) provide soft copies. We will expect you on the 18th of August…the motion passed, the FIRS chairman is to appear before this committee on August 18, 2022.”