NNPC’s probe: Reps panel gets deadline extension nine months after

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The House of Representatives has given the ad hoc committee set up in July 2018 to investigate the non-remittance of funds to the Federation Account by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation additional two weeks to lay its report.

Chairman of the committee, Mr Chukwuka Onyema, requested more time at the plenary on Thursday, over nine months after the panel was set up to carry out the probe.

The lawmaker made the request through a motion entitled, ‘Extension of Time for the Ad Hoc Committee to Investigate the Non-Remittance of Funds to the Federation Account by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation from January 2018 to Date.’

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Granting the motion’s prayer, the lawmakers resolved to “extend the mandate of the ad hoc committee to investigate the allegation by two weeks to enable the committee present its report.”

Moving the motion, Onyema blamed the delay on alleged non-cooperation by the affected Federal Government agencies with the committee.

He said, “On 10 July, 2018, the House debated a motion on the need to investigate the non-remittance of funds to the Federation Account by the NNPC from January 2018 to date and resolved to investigate the matter. An ad hoc committee was constituted on July 11, 2018, to investigate the allegation.

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“In the course of the investigation, the committee invited all agencies that have direct and ancillary roles to play in the process of revenue collection, remittance and audit of the collected revenue.

“The House is worried that the agencies deliberately refused to appear before the committee and when attempts were made to invoke legislative sanctions, the agencies adopted delay tactics to frustrate and blackmail the committee. Requests for documents were not honoured by the agencies and further attempts by the committee to obtain sensitive information through other agencies were blocked or sabotaged.

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“The deliberate attempts to undermine the legislative arm of government, particularly the House of Representatives, have directly and indirectly undermined the constitutional principle of separation of powers and checks and balances. If urgent steps are not taken to investigate the allegation that necessitated the constitution of the committee, it may lead to serious abuse and deliberate constitutional breaches in our polity.”

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