Reps step down N543.6bn judgment debt payment

The House of Representatives wound down on Wednesday without approving the loan request by the immediate-past President Muhammadu Buhari for the Federal Government to pay some judgment debts totalling approximately N543,594,989,247.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Aids, Loans and Debt Management Ahmed Dayyabu, laid the report on the presidential request on Wednesday but the lawmakers resolved that work had not been concluded on it and stepped down its consideration till the 10th House.

Buhari had last month, at the twilight of his administration, written to the National Assembly to seek approval for payment of judgment debts owed by the government to the tune of $566,754,584.31, £98,526,012.00 and N226,281,801,881.64.

When the dollar is converted to N261,149,177,358.36 and the pound sterling is converted to N56,164,010,008.15, the debt is approximately N543,594,989,247.

According to the President, in a letter addressed to the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan; and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, the government will make the payment through the issuance of promissory notes.

Meanwhile, the House considered and adopted the report by the ‘Ad Hoc Committee to Investigate the Alleged Loss of over $2.4bn in Revenue from the Illegal Sale of 48 Million Barrels of Crude Oil in 2015 Including Crude Oil Exports from 2014 to Date.’

The chairman of the committee, Mark Gbillah, laid the report earlier on Tuesday, though the panel still summoned more top officials of the last administration at its last investigative hearing on Monday.

On the alleged loss of over $2.4bn in revenue from illegal sale of 48 million barrels of crude oil export in 2015, the committee said it found the allegation to be false.

The report read, “The committee advises the National Assembly (Senate and the House), anti-graft and other agencies of the government not to waste taxpayer’s funds on further future investigation of these allegations, as they appear to be completely fraudulent and unsubstantiated.

“The security and anti-graft agencies should be advised to prosecute any of the individuals who initially made these allegations, if any one of them continues to peddle these false allegations after the committee’s investigation.

“The Abuja High Court handling the case against the related individuals is advised to resume the hearing and prosecution of the case, so justice can be meted out appropriately if any of the individuals are found culpable.

“Mr Jackson Ude and Point Blank News should be advised to issue a public retraction of their publication of these allegations on their website and other media outlets, considering the damage this publication has done to the reputation of related government officials and should strongly be admonished to be more circumspect in their future publications.”

On all the crude oil exports and sales by Nigeria from 2014 till date, the committee said, “All the oil and gas companies the committee requested information from did not provide most of the information requested for while some of them refused to respond or appear before the committee.”

According to the panel, the delayed responses by the companies and the impending end of the 9th Assembly “prevented the committee from comprehensively concluding its investigation on this aspect of its mandate.”

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