…We will set up subcommittee to reexamine the law ― Oke, PAC chair
By Levinus Nwabughiogu
Group Managing Director, GMD of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari has said that the monetary deductions made from the 2015 operations of the corporation had legal backing.
Kyari gave the explanation while responding to the audit query from the office of the Auditor General of the Federation over dwindling government revenue from 2014 till 2020 at the Public Accounts Committee, PAC of the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
The committee had invited the GMD to defend deductions from source of the sum of N865 billion from N2.4 trillion generated by the corporation in 2015.
NNPC was to also explain the non-remittance of N3.8 trillion of domestic crude oil sales; the non-collection of gas receipts for some months in the year; and the issue of refund of N450 billion among others.
It will be recalled that Auditor General had in the query said the act violated Section 162 of the constitution which provides that all revenue proceeds should be paid to the Federation Account.
Meeting with the committee, Kyari said that NNPC act, a certain judgement of the supreme court judgement and approval of the Attorney-General of the Federation empowered them to make deductions of their running cost from source.
“What we do is backed by the provisions of the law. First, the NNPC Act is very clear that we should submit revenues net of our cost.
“There is also an informed decision of the Supreme Court and also the Attorney General of the Federation, that that position is correct and supported by the provisions of the law,” Kyari said.
In his remarks, the Committee Chairman, Hon. Oluwole Oke said that NNPC as an agency of government was accountable to the people and ought to make remittances to the federation account.
Reserving ruling on the matter, Oke said the Committee will constitute a subcommittee to enable them reexamine the legal provisions to ascertain the tenacity of Kyari’s submission.
“Let us compare the provisions of the NNPC Act with Section 88, 81 of the constitution. We need to read the provisions of the NNPC Act along with section 80, 81 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to be able to decide which is superior, and which we are to follow.
“We would set up a sub-committee of legal minded members to read through the judgment of the Supreme Court on this matter vis-a-vis the letter from the letter of the Attorney General. We need to make an informed position of the matter. If the Supreme Court has taken a position, we need to be mindful of such. If we are in disagreement, the best option we have is to go into legislation, because it means the court has clearly interpreted the provisions of the law. Sources of law are judicial precedents.
“That is the way we can come up with an enactment, amendment, or repeal. So I want to suggest that we reserve ruling on the query bordering on deductions at source. Let us study the provisions of the constitution and the Act setting up NNPC along with the submission of the Attorney General and the Supreme Court judgment and we come back and make a ruling,” Oke said.