The Senate on Sunday requested President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu to enable it probe the alleged $25bn contract scam in the Corporation.
The Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), Senator Tayo Alasoadura, made the position of the senate known on the issue during a live programme on Channels Television titled, Sunday Politics.
Alasoadura also asked President Muhammadu Buhari himself to step down as petroleum minister.
He said the request was informed by the need to allow an independent person to supervise effectively operations of NNPC.
He said the senate has also resolved to invite all the companies who benefitted from the alleged $25bn contract scam in the NNPC to get to the root of issue.
Giving reason why he wanted the two principal officers in the NNPC to step down, Alasoadura specifically stated that Baru’s continued presence at the NNPC could jeopardise the Senate investigation into the allegations that he allegedly approved contracts to the tune of $25bn without the approval of the corporation’s board.
Alasoadura said, “I believe they should be suspended; especially the man who is doing the day-to-day running of the organisation.
“In order not to hinder or hamper that investigation, because records will be needed and even from the date of the leakage of that letter, I think action should have been taken to ensure that nothing will be missing when investigations start
“So, I think the two of them should be asked to step aside and when investigation is over, whoever is culpable will go and whoever is not culpable, will continue with his duties.”
The lawmaker, who represents Ondo Central Senatorial District, said one of the causes of the problem was the fact that Buhari doubled as the Minister of Petroleum Resources.
Describing the arrangement as faulty, Alasoadura said Buhari should step down and appoint a substantive minister who would be able to do the job more effectively.
He added, “Judging from the many problems plaguing our country today, I believe Mr. President should devote more time to other things and let an independent person run the petroleum resources ministry who will then report to him twice or once a week.’’
Alasoadura said the 40 firms, which received the $25bn contracts would be invited by the Senate.
He added, “We are probing them because we want to get to the root of this matter. If you are doing an investigation, even those who have not been mentioned may have to be invited.
“But as of today, these are the people that we think should be invited and from there, we may need to invite many more organisations as the probe continues.”
In a report by the Punch, it listed the firms to be invited by the Senate to include Oando, Sahara Energy, MRS Oil and Gas, AA Rano, Bono, Masters Energy, Eterna Oil and Gas, Cassiva Energy, Hyde Energy, Brittania U, North West Petroleum, Optima Energy, AMG Petroenergy, Arkiren Oil and Gas Limited and Shoreline Limited.
Others are Entourage Oil, Setana Energy and Prudent Energy, Trafigura, Enoc Trading, BP Trading, Total Trading, UCL Petro Energy, Mocho, Tevier Petroleum, Heritage Oil, Levene Energy, Litasco Supply and Trading, Glencore, Hindustan Refinery, Varo Energy, Sonara Refinery, Bharat Petroleum and Cepsa.
The companies are listed on the NNPC website as benefiting from crude term contracts.