by John Ameh
The bid by the House of Representatives to investigate the N20bn fuel subsidy dispute between the Chairman of Capital Oil and Gas Limited, Mr. Ifeanyi Uba, and a fellow businessman, Mr. Cosmas Maduka, failed on Thursday.
Two major reasons stalled proceedings a few minutes after the Chairman, House Committee on Public Petitions, Mr. Uzo Azubuike, introduced the matter.
One was the absence of the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
The second reason was the legal suits pending in court over the matter, as well as the absence of the Chairman, Presidential Committee on Fuel Subsidy, Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede.
As soon as proceedings started, the lawyer for Coscharis Motors, owned by Maduka, Mr. Osita Mbamalu, told the committee that the matter was already in court.
The committee members took 10 minutes to consult on the submission of Mbamalu before Azubuike announced that the hearing had been postponed.
He said, “We are standing down the hearing for today; we are adjourning the hearing to Thursday next week.
“We want Coscharis and Access Bank to furnish us with court processes on the matter on or before Tuesday next week.”
But, Uba who stormed out of the session, told journalists that he would ensure that he was paid his money.
He said, “I will not contest the resolution of the House that we should come back next week Thursday; I have to comply with that. But it is important to let Nigerians know that at this moment, our workforce is outside.
“We believe there is a grand conspiracy to strangle us, which started over 10 months ago. Since December last year, our payments have been stalled.
“With regards to verifications and unending investigations by the House Committee, we have been cleared by the House of Representatives; we were also cleared by the CBN.
“We were also cleared by the same Aig-Imokhuede on July 21; when they published 21 companies, our name was not there.
“Surprisingly, three weeks after July 21, our names came out with about 16 infractions.”
Meanwhile, the House insisted on Thursday that the $1.09bn transaction in which Shell/Agip took over an oil bloc, OPL 245, from Malabu Oil and Gas Limited was “shady and bedevilled by irregularities.”
An ad-hoc committee of the House chaired by Mr. Leo Ogor, stated that the transaction breached a policy of the Federal Government, which encouraged indigenous firms to have a stake in the oil and gas industry.
Ogor said it was “curious” that multi-national oil firms took over the oil bloc from Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, in violation of the policy of local participation in the industry.”
However, the DPR, which was deeply involved in the transaction, told the committee that the sale of OPL 245 to Malabu was revoked and re-awarded on the directive of government.
A representative of the directorate, Mr. Dozie Irrechukwu, said the agency could not question the government on why it revoked the bloc.
Hearing on the controversial transaction will continue on Friday (today).
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