By NBF News

The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke,  weekend denied that the NNPC made illegal deduction from the sale of crude oil as alleged by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiatives ( NEITI).

Allison-Madueke said this at an investigative hearing on NNPC's N450 billion debt to the Federation Account, organised by the House of Representatives' Joint Committee on Finance, Petroleum Resources (Upstream and Downstream) and Gas Resources.

Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Executive Secretary of NEITI, had on Nov. 2 said NNPC  made illegal deductions of N842 billion from crude oil proceeds accruable to the Federation  Account between 2004 and 2008. According to the Minister, the figures given by NEITI were misrepresented and called for caution in collating them.

'I think we need to be careful when we make projections and particularly as it concerns accounting and auditing balances.' She said that NNPC had an updated audit report covering up till 2010, saying that there might be discrepancies in one way or the other. According to the Minister, at the last meeting of the FRC, NNPC was mandated to commence process of repaying the N450 billion deductions.

On the NNPC non-presentation of its budget before the National Assembly, the minister said that the sector was a sensitive one that was engaged in sensitive businesses. She said that the corporation's budget was not appropriated for and that the payment of the N450 billion was coming from operational cash flow.

Mr Jonah Otunla, the Accountant-General of the Federation, said NNPC withheld the N450 billion it generated between February 2005 and November 2008. He said that the amount was not in dispute as the corporation had begun repayment of N7.6 billion monthly.

In another development, Rep Zakari Mohammed (PDP-Kwara), the Chairman of the Committee on Media and Public Affairs, said that the House has passed 83 motions between June and October.

Mohammed said that 40 bills had passed through second reading, three, third reading and waiting for concurrence from the Senate. He explained that the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) was receiving attention before the House as new members would be allowed to get its details.

Contributing, Rep Albert Sam-Tsokwa (PDP-Taraba), the Chairman of the Committee on Rules and Business, said the seventh National Assembly was interested in the PIB like any other Nigerian. The House has proceeded on a two-week break for the Sallah, to reconvene on Nov. 16.