* As lawyers hail lawmakers, want oil coy expelled from Nigeria
The African Centre for Justice and Human Rights (ACJHR) has called on the House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions to ensure that a public hearing is held in course of their investigation against Sterling Oil Exploration Company over allegations of several violations and malpractices in the oil and gas sector.
The lawmakers had at the plenary on October 3, 2023 adopted the petition, which was laid by Rep. David Umar (PDP, Kaduna State) on behalf of Social Justice and Civil Rights Awareness Initiative.
In the petition signed by Barr. Elozie Umegwa, the petitioners accused the oil company of alleged contract splitting, breach of local content law, contract racketeering, among others.
The petition also accused the company of circumventing reforms introduced by the Federal Government in the oil and gas sector.
The petition stated that the alleged illegal activities were taking place in 13 field development project located at Eastern Obolo in Akwa Ibom.
In his ruling, presiding the Deputy Speaker of the House, Rep. Benjamin Kalu had referred the petition to the House Committee on Public Petitions for further legislative actions.
The committee is to investigate the alleged grave infractions hampering the development of the Nigeria’s petroleum industry and contributing to the capital flight.
Reacting to the development, the leadership of the ACJHR in a press release signed by Comrade Abubakar Musa commended the lawmakers for accepting the petition, urging the committee led by Rep. Mike Etaba to do due diligence by ensuring a public hearing is held where various stakeholders are invited to make input and the media can witness the investigative hearing and report accordingly.
ACHJR opined that when this is done, it will help expose the corrupt practices of the said company to the public, which is the most affected by the illegal acts, provides interested parties with the opportunity to expand on their submissions and most importantly make the entire process transparent.
Similarly, a group of constitutional lawyers under the umbrella of Constitutional Lawyers Forum, has commended the lawmakers for accepting the petition, saying that it’s about time serious action is taken against some of the erring oil companies.
The constitutional lawyers, in a statement signed by its Convener, Hon. Barr. Agu Obe, urged the lawmakers to ensure serious investigation is done and sanctions meted out on Sterling Oil over the activities they’ve been perpetrating on innocent Nigerians over the years.
Obe recalled that this was not the first time the oil company is being called out, noting that a number of times, Nigerians have protested against the irregularities of the oil company.
He lamented that aside the malpractices listed by the Social Justice and Civil Rights Awareness Initiative in the petition, the oil company has ignored calls to manage the damages occasioned by crude oil haulage in oil producing communities and as well neglected its corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects expected from them.
The group, therefore, called for the immediate expulsion of the oil company from Nigeria to avoid further harm to the nation.