Multibillion naira probes drag in Senate


Fresh concerns are being expressed over the probes conducted by the Senate as some involving multi billion naira scandals have dragged for a year, Daily Trust reports.
A review of the activities of both standing and ad hoc committees of the Senate revealed that at least fourof the numerous probes have been on for over a year.

Three new probes
On Wednesday, three panels were set up by the Senate during plenary presided over by Senate President BukolaSaraki. The first one was set up to probe the funding of foreign missions. The resolution was sequel to a motion sponsored by Senator TijjaniYahayaKaura (APC,Zamfara). Saraki named Kaura as the chairman of the ad hoc committee.

The second panel chaired by the Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, Francis Alimikhena(APC,Edo) has the mandate to investigate the allegations of corruption and misconduct levelled against the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris by Senator IsahHammaMisau (APC,Bauchi).

The third one was a 9-man panel chaired by Senator AliyuWamakko (APC, Sokoto) charged with the mandate to investigate the allegation of  $25bn contract scandal levelled against the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) MaikantiBaru by the Minister of State for Petroleum, IbeKachikwu. The Wamakkopanel also has  the mandate to probe the activities of NNPC trading limited.

Saraki was not specific on the timeframe for the completion of the three probes, he only asked the committees to, “take the issue very serious and report back as soon as possible.”
Our correspondent reports that also last week, the Senate mandated its committee on Agriculture to investigate the large scale importation of maize into the country. The committee chaired by Senator AbdullahiAdamu (APC,Nasarawa) was given two weeks.

N450bn unremitted revenue probe lingers
The probe of 33 revenue generating agencies of the Federal Government over non-remittance, under remittance and misused of revenue generated between 2012 and 2016 amounting to N450bn has been on for over a year.
The probe being conducted by an ad Hoc Committee on Non Remittance and Misuse of Generated Revenue chaired by Senator Solomon Adeola (APC, Lagos) started in 2016.
Our correspondent reports that the panel has met on many occasions with the head of the affected agencies, yet the report of the committee has not been presented to the plenary for consideration.
Angered by the delay, Saraki on Thursday gave marching order to Adeola, asking him to submit the report this week or next.

MTN $12bn capital flight hanging
Sequel to a motion sponsored by Senator Dino Melaye (APC,Kogi), the Senate on Tuesday, 27th, 2016 mandated its committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions to probe Mobile Telecommunications Network (MTN) over $12bn capital flight.

After public hearing and meetings with relevant agencies, nothing was heard about the committee until in July this year when the chairman of the committee, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim (APC,Kwara) presented the report of the probe.
However, the Senate picked holes in the recommendations of the committee especially the one that concerns the CBN. Since then nothing has been heard on the probe.

N30tr revenue leakages
Another probe that has dragged for long is that of N30trillion revenue leakages between 2006 and 2016. It’s been carried out by the joint committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff and Marine Transport chaired by Senator Hope Uzodinma (PDP, Imo).
The probe which started in May this year saw the committee conducting an investigative hearings and meetings with about 20 federal agencies and 63 private firms. 
It was at the peak of one of the hearings, that it emerged that Uzodinma’s company, Niger Global Engineering and Technical Company had issue with the NPA over Calabar channel dredging.
The company with an authorized share capital of N5m was awarded N26bn contract by the NPA during former President GoodluckEbele Jonathan tenure.
The company which was awarded contract in 2012 has Uzodinma, OzuDinwoke, Leonard Odionyema and Justin Njoku as directors. Allegedly, after receiving an initial payment of $12.5 million in 2014, the company failed to carry out any work on the Calabar channel.
Probe of S/Kaduna crises
Following a motion by Senator DanjumaLa’ah (PDP,Kaduna),the Senate on Tuesday, January 10,2017 constituted an ad hoc committee to look into the immediate and remote causes of the unending crises in the  areas.
Saraki constituted an 8-man committee with Senator, Kabiru Gaya (APC,Kano) as chairman. The committee was also mandated to look into the crises in Zamfara, Benue, Enugu, Abia, Taraba, Kano, Delta and Edo states.
In April, the committee submitted its report but it was unanimously rejected by the Senators on the grounds that the work done by the Gaya’s committee was not thorough.
Since then, the committee is yet to complete its assignment.
Our correspondent reports that despite the delay in completion of probes of the multi billion naira scandals, the Senate only last week constituted three special panels to conduct probes of corruption cases.
‘Senate portrayed in bad light’
A senior staff of the National Assembly blamed the Senators for the delay, saying it’s not portraying the Upper chamber in good light.
“The timeframe and allocation to the committee is at the discretion of the Senate president. Traditionally, two or four weeks are given to committee but if the need arises, the chairman can request for additional weeks but not month,” he said.
On funding, he said between N2million and N5million are provided to the committee on approval of the Senate president.
“To be frank with you the funding of probes is determined by the interest of the Senate president on the issue,” he said.
Our correspondent reports that among the probes successfully completed under Saraki are that of Treasury Single Account (TSA) and the one on the humanitarian crises in the north east geopolitical zone.
Senator ShehuSani (APC, Kaduna) chaired the ad hoc committee that probes the humanitarian crises in the north east.
In a phone interview at the weekend, Sani said: “reports of investigation on corruption must not be part of the furniture of the villa;it must not be another book on the shelf of the president’s library;it must not be made to gather dust or serves as delicacy for the terrestrial or power rodents.It should be implemented by the President.”
The spokesperson of the Senate, Senator AliyuSabiAbdullahi and his deputy, Ben Murray-Bruce could not be reached for comments as the phones were shut down  at the time of filing this report.

Daily Trust