The Chairman House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating all crude oil exports from 2014 till date as well as the illegal sale of 48 million barrels of Nigeria’s Bonny Light crude in China in 2015, Mark Gbillah, has vowed to deploy all tools to recover the alleged loss of $2.4 billion revenue accrued to the government in the sales.
Gbillah, who also said the committee would unravel the facts behind the allegations made by whistleblowers, gave the assurance at the inauguration of his committee in Abuja yesterday.
It will be recalled that the House last week, via a motion by Ibrahim Isiaka, resolved to investigate the issues.
the lawmaker said the assignment would take them to various parts of the world, including the United States of America, Mexico and China, in search of useful information.
He said the amount involved was too huge to be ignored by any responsible parliament in times of economic crunch.
He said: “Like I said initially, this is the House Adhoc Committee to investigate the alleged loss of 2.4 billion dollars from the sale of 48 million barrels of crude oil. It’s also mandated by the House to investigate crude oil sales from 2014 till date and whistleblower information and recoveries and expenditure of these recoveries.
“So, in a summary, these are the key issues of this Adhoc Committee as mandated by the House to look into and I want to say that by the leave of the speaker and members of the House of Representatives, I have been assigned as the chairman of this committee. It is a show by the leadership of the house of their willingness and transparency in arriving at the truth behind whatever has transpired in this circumstance because an allegation was raised in 2020 by a whistleblower who alleged that Nigeria’s crude was diverted and sold allegedly by certain individuals who were in government who were in the nation’s oil corporation who were in the security agencies and who were also cronies of those in Authority at the time.
“Now, the Committee takes very seriously issues that have to do with allegations. We owe Nigerians the benefit of doubt in line with our Constitution. “
regards to this matter.
“There are other individuals who are in hiding but are reaching out to the committee. We want to assure all the whistleblowers who have revelations to provide to this honourable committee that their information would be treated in the strictest level of confidence as it is done all over the world in other climes.”
Gbillah who gave hints of a sponsor on a whistleblower bill to protect such sources of information also solicited for the cooperation of the foreign authorities in the assignment.
“We can receive evidence behind closed doors before we make them public because we, too, are concerned about spurious and false allegations. So, we too want to determine and see the facts behind any such allegations before we bring them to public knowledge because we are a public body saddled with the representation of the Nigerian people so we have to also do things responsibly.
“We are also keen as a House on very quickly enacting the whistleblower bill.
We know the executive has been working on one but it appears to be taking them a lot of time to do so. So even within the House a private member bill is being explored because this is a critical aspect to tackle the corruption in our country. We commend president Buhari administration for bringing fourth a whistleblower policy but very recently the president himself and the ministers of finance admitted that policy has not been successful in terms of the amount of revelations that they expected and the recoveries expected and these are obviously tied to the lack of protection to whistleblower in the current policy that is in existence.
“We would be appealing to other international partners of Nigeria, the US, Mexican government, the Chinese government to give this committee the cooperation required because we would also necessarily need to also visit some of these countries to obtain the facts behind the matter where these crude oil sales allegedly took place, those who were involved, who claimed they were entitled to some percentage of the amount when these sales tool place, they are being very helpful in providing us with the names of some of the individuals who were allegedly in this matter but for the sake of confidentiality and seriousness of this matter, we might not be able to divulge that information until we obtain the facts.
“They have told us they have video recordings, photographs of the meetings, documentation to show email trail and discussions and even bank account statements of very highly placed people where these transactions took place. We hope that Nigerians and the media would be very objective in this issue and provide us with the support that is required to carry out this very onerous assignment”, he said.