Reps walk out DPR officials during probe of alleged N733,054bn, $3.214bn financial impropriety

The House of Representatives on Thursday walked out officials of Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) from an investigative hearing on alleged financial irregularities in the department running into trillions of naira.

Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, Hon. Wole Oke who spoke in Abuja during the investigative hearing frowned at the continuous failure of the Director/CEO, Engr. Sarki Auwalu to appear for the hearing which became necessary following queries raised by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation (oAuGF).

According to the query, the “Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) collected the sum of N733,054,301,I73.04 but paid a net of N706,283,397,141.80.

“Review of documents relating to outstanding royalty, gas flare penalty, gas sales royalty and concession rental due from Oil and Gas Companies showed that the sum of $3,214,022,999.93 was not collected by DPR as and when due.”

While responding to the concerns raised by the lawmakers, DPR’s Head of Planning, Mr Johnson Makanjuola who led the delegation tendered an unreserved apology on behalf of the CEO.

Mr Makanjuola explained that the CEO attended the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting with the Minister on Wednesday, adding that he was given an assignment which required him go back to the Villa today (Thursday).

“When we discovered that he won’t make it here today, we came to meet the Chairman of the Committee to explain to him that we will be bringing a letter on his behalf. So we tender unreserved apology on his behalf and I plead that you listen to what we have to say.

“He is a new man on the seat, even if he is here, I will be the one to speak on the observations raised,” he said.

However in his intervention, Deputy Chairman House Committee on Public Accounts, Hon. Abdulkadir Abdullahi (APC-Bauchi) observed that the committee had been receiving excuses from the CEO why he should not appear.

According to him, we just received the letter that he won’t be coming today and the submissions also.

“I am afraid, I do not think we should allow this appearance to go on because respect begets respect. If the CEO won’t appear, he should have informed us earlier, and this is not first time, you have been making excuses one after the other and today again, it is the same old story.

“So I’m afraid, I want to insist that the CEO appears; these are not issues raised by us, they were raised by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation,” he said.

He said that legislators were elected, among others to be watchdogs over public funds but certain critical government agencies have formed it a habit to refuse the parliamentary summons.

According to him, Hon. Abdullahi, it is in your character to deliberately disrespect the parliament; I am afraid we cannot continue.

While ruling. Hon. Oke who expressed displeasure over the submission of the response to the queries on the day of appearance, said: “We expect that you should have furnished this Committee with these documents much earlier to enable us read same and form an opinion.

“We won’t be able to take you today; we want the CEO to appear before this committee, we are a friendly committee and very civil.

“We are mindful of the privilege, out of 200 million Nigerians, you gave the opportunity to serve, to represent, so we do not attack, oppress, intimidate people that appear before us, it is not in our culture.

“We speak to issues, facts and law; if the Auditor General did not raise these queries, we will not invite you. We need to work in synergy to deepen the rule of law and make our country a better place.

“And the figures we are talking about is in the region of trillions of naira; the first query, the figures is over one trillion naira.

“So it is a very serious matter, I want you to see reasons with us and it is better for the CEO to cause appearance even if he will delegate you to speak to the matter, let him be here and say so,” he said.

To this end, the lawmakers resolved that the CEO of the Department of Petroleum Resources should appear in person unfailingly next week.

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