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House Resumes Probe Of Petroleum Minister Over Alleged N10bn Private Jet Charter

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SAN FRANCISCO, May 22, (THEWILL) â€' Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Wednesday, ordered the Public Account Committee (PAC) mandated to investigate the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, over allegations of spending over N10 billion on the charter and maintenance of a private jet for both official and family use to begin its work.

The speaker who gave the orders at Wednesday's sitting also denied that the leadership of the House sold out the resolution of the chamber, saying 'there have been widely reported stories in the media insinuating that the House has dropped the investigation on this issue.'

He explained that insinuating that he had directed that the investigation be discontinued followed some underhand transaction with some interests in the matter.

According to the speaker, the House will not renege on its resolve to probe the allegations. He said the leadership of the House had consulted with Justice Mahmud Mohammed of the Federal High Court that supposedly granted a restraining order stopping the probe and other stakeholders.

'It was widely reported that I ordered that the investigation should be stopped. But it was my position that we should hold on until I receive a legal briefing on the matter, as even the Judge himself had said he didn't issue an injunction to halt the probe.

'In view of this, I therefore urge you (public accounts committee) to continue with your investigation and turn in your report accordingly,' he said.

It will be recalled that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Minister of Petroleum Resources had dragged the House to an Abuja Federal High Court challenging the Minister's investigation by the lower chamber on allegations of reckless spending of N10 billion on the charter and maintenance of a private jet.

Alison- Madueke and NNPC had listed the National Assembly and the House of Representatives as the defendants in the suit with reference number FHC/ABJ/CS/295/2014 and dated April 11 .

The matter became contentious when the House through its Media and Public Affairs Committee chairman, Hon. Zakari Mohammed, announced that the investigation would be put on hold in view of the court notice received by the office of the speaker on the case filed by the minister.

President Goodluck Jonathan had in his last media chat defended the minister and instead accused the House of witch-hunting her. The President equally claimed ignorance of the minister's lawsuit against the House of Representatives.

The president had said: 'The Ministry of Petroleum has always been using jets… There is more of politics than work in the House of Representatives.' He also warned that the nation risks 'parliamentary dictatorship' should the House continue in this way.