National Assembly Committee Issues Warrant of Arrest on Conoil, Six Others
The National Assembly Joint Committee on Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) has issued a bench warrant on seven companies operating in the country for snubbing its invitation. They are Conoil, Pan Ocean Oil, Continental Oil and Gas Ltd, Niger Delta Petroleum Resources and Allied Energy Plc, Sheba Petroleum Exploration and Production/Express Petroleum, Newcross E & P, and Atlas Petroleum Development Company.
The committee had earlier invited the companies to defend themselves for alleged non-remittance of statutory funds to the NDDC for the development of the region but they shunned the committee.
Sen. Peter Nwaoboshi, Chairman of Senate Committee on NDDC at the public hearing on Tuesday directed that a bench warrant be issued to the companies that failed to attend the meeting.
The committee knocked the management of NDDC for not keeping accurate and up-to-date financial records of remittances from oil companies operating in the region. The NDDC Act mandates oil companies to remit a certain percentage of their profit to the Commission.
Findings by the Nwaoboshi-led committee showed that the canon on remittances were never enforced or in some cases poorly enforced leaving the NDDC with little funds for the development of the region.
The committee however exonerated the acting Managing Director of the Commission, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari , because “she is still new on the job”.
At the public hearing, it was claims and counter claims as some of the oil companies who were present claimed that they had made efforts to reach the Commission to reconcile their accounts and settle outstanding remittances to their name.
He added that the company had been trying to pay $1 million to the commission for the past six months but NDDC had not given the company the opportunity.
“We paid $18 million to the Commission in 2014 but we are left with an outstanding $1million. We want to pay but the Commission has failed to meet with our company”, he said.
“There are procedural lapses in NDDC. The regulations, the procedure they are adopting in that office will be a matter between us and them,” Nwabaoshi said.
Rep. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta recommended that the committee should carry out forensic auditing of the Commission’s account.
“Before, the impression is that the companies are not paying, but today, we have seen that the reverse is the case. We should discontinue the revenue collection for NDDC and investigate their account.”