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House of Representatives Adopts All Fuel Subsidy Probe Recommendations

April 25, 2012

The House of Representative on Wednesday adopted all 62 recommendations of the Farouk Lawan-led fuel subsidy probe panel.

The adoption of the recommendations followed a second day of debates at the House. Each of the clauses were reviewed by the House plenary chaired by the Deputy speaker, Emeka Ihedioha.

Delivering a remark at the end of the debates, Mr Ihedioha commended the ad-hoc committee for a job well done and said that the House of Representatives will now forward the resolution containing all the recommendations to President Goodluck Jonathan, who will be responsible for its implementation.

He said that the work of the ad-hoc committee has now been extended by two weeks to allow the companies that did not appear before it to do so.

Audit firms, others to be prosecuted

Although the accounting firms that were indicted by the probe report – Akintola Williams’ Delliote & co and Olusola Adekanola and partners – have been fired and blacklisted by the Ministry of Finance, the lawmakers adopted recommendation 36 requiring the government to prosecute these companies for their involvement in the mismanagement of the fuel subsidy fund.

The lawmakers also adopted the recommendation that all the officials of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Office of the Director-General, Budget and the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, who were involved in the extra budgetary expenditure under the PSF Scheme (2009-2011) should be investigated and prosecuted in line with recommendation 41 of the subsidy probe report.

Recommendation 42, which asked that the Accountant General of the Federation be investigated and prosecuted for authorising the payment of N999 million in 128 on 12th and 13th January 2009, drew more debates than other recommendations.

Uche Ekwunife argued that “nothing will come out of” recommendation 42 saying that the accountant general “did not breach any rule.”

After several comments, the Chairman of the subsidy probe committee moved a motion to amend the recommendation.

He said following the current information available to his committee, the officials of the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) are culpable in the irregular payment.

Mr Lawan read a letter from the Central Bank of Nigeria indicating that the payments were made to PPPRA’s account and further paid to 52 companies. He said he was also in possession of another letter from Ibrahim Dankwanbo, the then Accountant General of the Federation, which made the same claim.

The House thereafter amended recommendation 42 which proposed that officials of the PPPRA, rather than the Accountant General of the Federation be investigated for the payment of N999 million, 128 times within 24 hours.

Several lawmakers opposed recommendation 43 which seeks a law to criminalize extra-budgetary expenditures by government officials.

The lawmakers argued that the offence is already covered by laws against theft, while others argued that there is need for clarity through a unique law, targeted at such offences.

However, through a voice vote, the House adopted the recommendation requiring it to enact a unique law targeted at criminalizing extra-budgetary expenditure.

In all the House of Representatives adopted all the recommendations of the subsidy probe committee and included one suggested by Albert Sam-Sokwa.

Culled from Channels Nigeria of Wednesday 25th April 2012

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