By Disun Amosun
The House of Representatives Tuesday warned key stakeholders in the public and private sectors invited to answer questions on their handlings of government contracts to desist from hiding behind Classification or Sensitivity clauses so as not to provide its constitutionally empowered Committees with required information and documents in the discharge of their investigations.
Chairman, House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee investigating revenue loss to Nigeria in the illegal sale of the country’s crude amounting to over $24 million, Rep Mark Gbilla gave the warning when the Committee interfaced with three Oil Companies involved in the exportation contract of the country’s crude between 2014 and now appeared before it.
The Committee Chairman while grilling the Operations Manager of Oriental Energies, operators of the Marginal Ibok Oil Fields, Mrs. Obielu Ohrionmha, had wondered why specific documents requested by the Committee, including names of banks, identities of bank accounts operators, bank statements and copies of contractual agreements were not supplied.
The representative of Oriental Energies had said the company felt such information and documents were classified and sensitive to be released to outside bodies.
Rep Gbilla pointed out that the 1999 Constitution as amended, from which the Legislature draws its powers to investigate any issue or entity operating in the country or engages in business deals with it from anywhere, overrides issues of Classification of information or documents requested by Parliament.
The Committee then gave Oriental Energies till Thursday this week to not only ensure that the already requested information gets to its Secretariat, it requested for additional documents such as payment invoices, copies of agreement signed with Exxon to operate the Oil Mining Licence OML 027 and its financial implications on revenue accruable to the federal government.
Earlier the ad-hoc Committee had interfaced with Total Energies; another company involved in crude exportation within the period under review and was told similar messages on the need to supply the Committee with required information for it to expeditiously complete the investigation before the expiration of the 9th House of Representatives.