In its bid to ensure that records are set straight, the House of Representatives, through a resolution, mandated its Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) to investigate issues surrounding kerosene supply, distribution and subsidy payment s from the year 2010 to 2013.
One of the tasks before the committee is the investigation of several allegations of fraud in the management of kerosene subsidy. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation had stated that a large percentage of the $ 10.8 billion that the suspended Governor of the Central Bank, Lamido Sanusi claimed was unremitted to the CBN account was spent on kerosene subsidy.
The Committee, in its sitting on April 8 however claimed to have uncovered vessel discharge discrepancies of about 27, 000 metric tonnes of kerosene.
While the committee continues to beam its searchlights, a scandal with the Chairman, Hon Dakuku Peterside at its centre is building up and from Street Journal’s findings, it may soon snowball into a big issue.
The chairman might soon become the subject of investigations as he has been accused of complicity in plans to frustrate the efforts of other members of the committee. It was alleged that the Chairman sourced for funds outside the House to run the committee, an action that is contrary to the laid down rules and precepts of the legislature. It was gathered that funds had not been released by the House for the use of the committee, meanwhile, the Chairman has been running the committee, and it has been alleged he has never failed to display high handedness in doing so. To some members, the committee is being run like the Chairman’s private family business as he allegedly takes some decisions without consulting with his members, thereby causing disaffection among them.
He was also accused of hiring a consultant to investigate the management of kerosene subsidy, not only without being vested with the powers to do so but without recourse to the members of the committee. Checks revealed that if a consultant is to be hired in such situations, laid down rules have to be followed. It is also stipulated that it should be done with the consent of all members while the Speaker of the House should also be notified of the need and intention to hire a consultant.
Where such happens, it was gathered that the Speaker call for the invitation of consultants who must have shown interest in handling the job. The consultants would be screened and the best one for the job would be picked. In this case however, it was gathered that neither bids nor invitations were involved, the consultant was simply handpicked by the Chairman to do the job.
Findings also revealed that the consultant had been working for more than two months before he was introduced to members of the committee. The members were also shocked to hear that the consultant was hired at a nine digit figure. The disclosure of the consultant’s wages almost led to an exchange of blows among members of the committee.
It was alleged that things turned awry when the consultant started going round to meet some marketers offering to help them remove their names from the list of those to be indicted in the probe.
The chairman’s action has started generating feelings within the committee that he and the remaining members are working at cross purposes. Some have even alleged that he is either being sponsored or induced by external forces to jeopardize the ongoing investigation.
Questions are already pouring in concerning where he got the funds to run the affairs of the committee from when the House has not released funds. Questions are also being raised on why he decided to jettison due process and bypass the Speaker and the House in the hiring of a consultant.
Efforts to reach the Chairman via his mobile phone were unsuccessful as of the time of filing the report. At first, calls to his line were unanswered and the text message that was sent to his number was not replied. After a while, the response from the line was that calls to his number have been diverted.