- As Minister says Abuja airport runway repairs 95% ready
- Building under construction collapses in Mexico City, 6 dead
The House of Representatives on Monday summoned the acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu, over alleged 17 billion dollars undeclared oil proceeds.
Summoned with Magu are the Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr Maikanti Baru and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele.
They are expected on Tuesday by the House’s Ad hoc Committee investigating the alleged theft of the oil funds.
Chairman of the committee, Rep. Abdulrazak Namdas, announced the invitation of the three persons at the opening of the investigation on Monday in Abuja, following the committee’s displeasure that the chief executives sent their subordinates to represent them.
Also summoned are the Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Dakuku Peterside and the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr Ahmed Idris.
Also to appear before the committee on the issue are Group General Manager, National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), Mr Stephen Sejebor and a Director at the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Mr Modecai Ladan.
Namdas, who is also the spokesman of the lower chamber, said that since the nation depended on oil proceeds, no fight against corruption could be meaningful without serious searchlight on the oil industry.
According to him, this is especially when the perpetrators are high and mighty and inexorably the models the society looks up to.
The committee chairman warned that the House would not hesitate to invoke its constitutional powers to compel the invited chief executives to appear, if they defaulted.
He, therefore, turned back directors and other management staff who were sent as representatives of their respective organisations at the committee’s sitting.
Namdas had said earlier that reports had it that over 57 million barrels of crude oil were illegally exported and sold in the U.S. between January, 2011 and December, 2014.
He said that the estimated revenue loss by the government of Nigeria “is around 12 billion dollars’’.
“At an exchange rate of N196 to a dollar, this translates to over N2 trillion. You can imagine what the value is now,” he said.
According to him, the corruption in the oil industry distorts public policy, creates misappropriation and misapplication of resources.
Namdas added that “it vitiates private sector and private sector development and over and above all, it undermines good governance and ultimately hurts the poor most”.
Declaring the investigative hearing open earlier, Speaker of the House, Mr Yakubu Dogara, said incidents of stolen and missing money at the NNPC and entire oil industry had become an albatross to development of the nation.
Dogara decried the situation, saying that if not for the constant theft in the industry, the nation would not have been in economic recession at the moment.
“The incidence of money missing in the industry has become a recurrent decimal to the point that news items in the media are incomplete without mention of the ills of the industry.
“The reports of the media on the ills in oil industry clearly attest to the concern of the government to tackle corruption in the industry head on”.
The speaker, who was represented by the Minority Whip, Rep. Yakubu Barde, said that the country had received disturbing audit reports about the oil industry.
He said that the report involving International Oil Companies (IOCs) was that about 4.4 billion dollars was trapped somewhere instead of being remitted to the Federation Account.
He cited a report from an anti-corruption organisation, the Action Network for Economic Justice, which claimed that NNPC did not remit over 12 billion dollars to the federation account since 2009.
“The same organisation alleged that the sum of 5.9 billion dollars of the federation account were lost to offshore processing agreements and through crude theft in the country”.
According to the speaker, if loss of revenue to the nation through the oil industry is to be avoided, I can beat my chest that under no circumstances should Nigeria talk about recession.
“Therefore, no amount of investigation in the oil industry can be said to be an over-kill as the oil industry has become endemic.
“The investigation of the 17 billion dollars, therefore, remains part of the ongoing process in confronting the hydra-headed monster,” he said.
Dogara, therefore, urged the committee to complement government’s efforts in the fight against corruption.
In the meantime, the runway of Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja is 95 per cent completed, Minister of State for Aviation Hadi Sirika said on Monday.
Sirika promised that the April 19 date for the completion of the runway will not fail.
He spoke in Abuja on a radio programme, tagged: ‘Political platform’, monitored by The Nation.
Few weeks ago, Sirika and the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, inspected the entire stretch from runway 04 to runway 022 and saw the work being done at each point, expressing satisfaction at the pace of work.
Yesterday, the minister said: “We are now about 95 per cent completion of the Abuja Airport runway. We are finishing the laying of asphalt today. We had about two days of rain, which disturbed the ongoing work. But we are working and we are going to get to the due date, which is on April 19, 2017, God willing. Other works like the lighting, markings among others have been going on simultaneously.
“There is a new technology, where glass glide is put in the process of constructing the runway to reinforce it, to give it extra strength and prevent cracks and that is what we have done at the Abuja airport runway. This is the first time any Nigerian runway is being treated with such material and that material is a 50 tonner. We had to fly it in to Nigeria to ensure that it comes in time for this job and you have seen samples of it.
“I am very happy and I thank Nigerians for bearing with us and also thank President Muhammadu Buhari for believing in us that we can do it and he gave us the trust to do it.”
The runway being reconstructed at the cost of N5.8 billion by Julius Berger was closed on March 8, 2016.
The minister pleaded with those doing business in the Abuja airport over their loss.
“The responsibility is on us to ensure that all is well. You know that we cannot be 100 per cent perfect. But if you are 95 or 96 per cent, that can pass. We apologise to those at the Abuja airport. They must have lost revenue within the period of six weeks.
“However, some of them were creative enough to move to the Kaduna Airport. I have seen several people who have moved to Kaduna. Many may lose but many also gain. We will provide better service because once the airport is save, many more people will come to them to do business,” he said.
Sirika added that President Muhammadu Buhari has directed everyone to plan for the construction of the second runway in Abuja airport.
In another development, part of a building under construction collapsed in Mexico City on Monday, trapping workers underneath concrete slabs and leaving at least six people dead and nine injured, an official said.
Mexico City’s Civil Protection chief Fausto Lugo said rescuers were using dogs and specialized equipment to look for workers still trapped beneath the rubble but they needed to proceed “with a lot of care to not put at risk” their colleagues and any survivors.
The accident took place in what was to be the multistory parking garage of a shopping center in Mexico City’s Olivar de Los Padres district.
A statement from the government of Mexico’s capital said initial reports indicated the collapse came when a beam being raised by a crane struck a support column.
An investigation has been opened into the cause of the collapse and to determine if the construction project had the proper permits, said prosecutor Gustavo Omar Jimenez.
The nine injured have been transferred to hospitals, authorities said.
Lugo raised the death toll by one to six late Monday.
Vanguard with additional report from Citizen and Abc News