The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) has disowned a letter allegedly written by it to the Senate Committee on Finance.
The national oil company also explained that it can never disrespect any Senate summons.
The letter purportedly written by the company insinuated that it was now an independent organisation insulated from being summoned by any relevant committees of the National Assembly.
Notwithstanding the disowning of the letter, the Senate adhoc Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) at its sitting yesterday, summoned the Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO), Mele Kyari, to appear before it next week.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Olamilekan Adeola (APC Lagos West), had penultimate Wednesday during an engagement with heads of various MDAs, had said the NNPCL wrote the committee through its liaison officer in National Assembly (NASS).
Adeola said the letter had informed his panel that the NNPCL was now a limited liability company hence it was insulated from appearances before committees of NASS.
However, the NNPCL General Manager Public Affairs, Garbadeen Muhammad, at the sideline of appearance of NNPCL before the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) yesterday, told journalists that the alleged letter did not emanate from the NNPCL.
He said, “After the accusation on the purported letter, we carried out thorough investigation on where such a letter came from and through whose authority but discovered that nothing of such was sent from NNPCL to any committee of the National Assembly.
“We even probed further as regards the authenticity of the letter by taking our liaison officer at the National Assembly to Senator Adeola’ office where the Clerk of the Senate Committee on Finance, changed the narrative from letter to telephone conversation.
“Even at that, we requested for the telephone number of the person who gave such information to the Clerk of the Senate Committee on Finance for required tracking of identity but not given to us.
“The fact of the matter as it is now, is that nobody from NNPCL wrote or called anybody in the National Assembly that the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), has insulated us from appearing before relevant committees of the National Assembly.
“NNPCL is at any time ready to honour any invitation from committees of the National Assembly as regards its operations on Oil and Gas,” he said.
Meanwhile the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) has summoned Kyari to appear before it unfailingly on Tuesday next week by 2pm .
The adhoc Committee chaired by Senator Mohammad Sabo Nakudu ( APC Jigawa South West), said appearance of the GCEO before it would give it required information on steps being taken against oil theft , dwindling revenue , dilapidated state of the Nation’s refineries etc .
The GCEO was represented at the rescheduled meeting by Group Executive Director of NNPCL , Adeyemi Adetunji.
The senators at the session, angrily insisted that the NNPCL officials led by Kyari must appear before them next week Wednesday or be ready to lose his job.
Their resolution read, “The non-appearance of the management of the NNPCL is an affront to the Senate committee and it is necessary for the GMD, to compulsorily come here in person to answer questions.
“The session is hereby adjourned to Tuesday, October 4 by 2pm to enable the committee answer questions from him in person.”
One of the members, Opeyemi Bamidele said, “The GMD said the NNPCL is now a limited liability company and cannot be coming to appear before the parliament.
“Our own understanding basically, and am saying this for record, is that we needed to grant this autonomy of a corporate status to the NNPC to allow the organization to favourably compete with similarly situated corporations or companies in the oil and gas industry.”
Also, Smart Adeyemi said, “Is it the common man or the poor man on the street that is stealing the crude? Can the man on the street be involved in oil theft without the collaboration of those who know the business, those who are in the industry?
“Those who control the crude and distribution of the crude? Mr. Chairman, I want to believe that some people are building another nation somewhere when you look at the quantum of money that is being stolen in Nigeria, especially the crude oil.”
Similarly, Ifeanyi Ubah, who seconded the motion, said, “My point in seconding the motion is that since I came in here, I have been watching the countenances of people on the other side.”