By Soni Daniel, Regional Editor, North
There were indications last night that the National Assembly might back down on its tough stance to deal with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, for allegedly obtaining a loan of $1.5 billion from various banks to pay its debts without the approval of the legislature.
Findings by Vanguard revealed that the committee raised by the House of Representatives to probe the matter and report back to the lower chambers within two weeks had decided to soft pedal on the matter following uncertainty over whether the oil corporation had actually drawn down the funds, which were meant to offset the debts owed major suppliers of refined products to the country.
According to unverified reports, the money was paid by NNPC to the oil suppliers towards the end of the last year to avoid serious repercussions but the National Assembly members said they have found out that the money was yet to be spent.
It was gathered that as a result of the discovery that the funds had not yet been drawn down, the House of Representatives Committee on Loans and Debts, Justice, Petroleum Downstream and Upstream, which was mandated to probe the matter, had to call off its public hearing slated for Tuesday.
The hearing, which was to enable members of the public and top officials of NNPC to speak up on what they knew about the controversial loan package, was surreptitiously cancelled when it dawned on members that the investigation would amount to a wild goose chase.
A member of the House of Representatives, who spoke to Vanguard in confidence, pointed out that the members might have been misled into assuming that the oil corporation committed an infraction by taking the loan without the consent of the National Assembly.