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‘Missing crude’: Direct your queries to AGF, IGP tells lawmakers

The Inspector General of Police, IGP Usman Baba, Thursday, threw spanners into attempts by the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee Investigating Alleged Loss of Over $2.4 Billion from Illegal Sale of 48 Million Barrels of Crude Oil Export in 2015, including Crude Oil Export from 2014 till date, to usurp the powers of the police to question and arraign criminal elements.

Alkali, who appeared before the committee through Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG Garba Baba Umar, told the Hon. Mark Gbillah-led committee that the police have the responsibility to act on any petition received against individuals and entities.

According to the police boss, all queries on the alleged loss of $2.4 billion from illegal sale of 48 million barrels of crude oil export in 2015 and other sundry matters should be directed to the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and relevant courts as the matter was already in court.

The IGP explained that the Interpol had received a petition about some individuals who blackmail and extort money from government officials and swung into action by inviting the persons, Marco Antonio Ramirez, a Mexican, Francis Ibomor and 40 others.

“It is my responsibility to act on any information received. I assure you, we are not investigating, we are only inviting people to come and say their own part of the story,” Umar said.

He stressed that, “it is pertinent to state that sometime in 2015, the NPF received a petition from the Hon. Attorney General of the Federation’s office to investigate the activities of some Nigerian and foreign nationals involved in blackmail and extortion of government functionaries, using forged documents to gain access to public institutions and carry out fraudulent activities.

“The investigation was concluded wherein a prima facie case of conspiracy, blackmail, and extortion of government functionaries, using forged documents to gain access to public institution and fraud was established against them and the said charge mentioned in your letter was filed by the office of the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.

“The suspects were arraigned for the said offenses and granted bail pending the determination of the charge. However, it is observed that they were arraigned by the EFCC in other offences and were in detention thereby stalling continuation in this trial for sometime.

“At the resumption of trial, it is discovered that some of them have absconded into other countries while those in Nigeria are at needed to appear in court for their trial, hence the invitation which they forwarded to your committee for help.”

The police boss told the committee that “Kindly, note that Section 88 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN) under which your committee is established does not confer any powers on the National Assembly to interfere with criminal investigation much more a criminal charge which is pending before the court. I acknowledge the powers of the National Assembly to oversight functions but I am unable to factor the content of your letter questioning the authority of the police to carry out its constitutional duty and furthermore of your committee ordering the Nigerian Police to forward its case file to your committee.”

He further explained that the Interpol wrote to the self-styled whistleblowers as it is a different arm of the police force and has different responsibilities and duties.
“The Interpol has nothing to do with national police,” he stressed, adding that the Interpol cannot be used to witch-hunt anyone.

Earlier, the Chairman of the ad hoc committee, Hon Mark Gbillah, had wondered why the whistle blowers who came to give more details to the House were being hunted, noting that one of the whistle blowers was supposed to be at the hearing but was afraid and feel intimidated.

“We found out that your department wrote to those two individual which is not a coincidence. Why did the Interpol write to them before they came to the House?” Gbillah asked.

Blueprint correspondent from documents sighted notes that a warrant of arrest was issued against the suspects the FCT High Court on February 1, 2023 after jumping bail granted them in case No.: FCT/HC/CR/134 in 2019.

The matter was adjourned to Masrch 15 before Justice O.A.Musa.
The committee chairman employed the Tnterpol to respect the House and sought more cooperation towards the success of the investigation, hinting that the committee planned to go to Mexico to investigate the allegations.

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