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House vows to continue with Diezani probe

By The Rainbow
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The House of Representatives on Wednesday dismissed reports suggesting that it was cooling off on the probe of profligacy, wastefulness against Minister of Petroleum Resources Mrs Diezanni Alison-Madueke.

The probe centres on the minister's alleged personal use of a private jet chartered and maintained at the cost of  N10 billion by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

The Speaker, Honourable Aminu Tambuwal, directed the House Committee on Public Accounts mandated by the House to probe the allegation to resume its investigation of the matter.

Tambuwal said that the reports were misconception of what he said about holding on to get legal briefing on the matter.

'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,' he said.

Tambuwal added that his disposition at the time was to give him the opportunity to consult on the action of the minister with legal experts.

The Speaker also clarified that there was no time he said a court order had stopped the House from conducting the probe, but only mentioned 'court processes.'

He informed lawmakers that, having consulted as he promised, he had arrived at the conclusion that the CPA should resume the probe.

Tambuwal added, 'I have read in newspapers that I stopped te committee from performing its duties.

'I only said I received court processes, not court order.

'I directed you (Chairman of CPA, Mr. Solomon Olamilekan) to hold on until I consulted legal opinions.

'I have done so. Good a thing that the presiding judge also said that there was no such orders (stopping the House).

'I, therefore, direct that you should continue with the matter before you and report to the House as quickly as possible.'

The House, through a resolution, mandated its Committee on Public Account  (PAC) to probe the alleged N10 billion expended on the chatter and maintenance of a Challenger 850 private jet by the minister.

The House of Representative has been probing into allegations that Alison-Madueke spent N10bn to charter and maintain a private jet, Challenger 850, for her trips in the last two years.

Tambuwal explained that he merely advised the committee to tarry awhile after his office was served with a court process instituted by the minister on April 28.

The committee was set to begin the hearing on April 28 when the court processes were served on the House informing it of the decision of the minister to sue the legislature.

However, there was confusion after some House officials initially interpreted the court processes to mean an injunction against the committee.

It was the confusion that led to Tambuwal advising the Olamilekan committee to tarry until he had sought legal opinions on the matter.

Besides the Challenger 850, Alison-Madueke is said to have chartered other jets, including a Global Express XRS for her foreign trips.

The PAC had said in April that a return trip to London on the Global Express XRS cost €500,000.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Pipelines and Products Marketing Company, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, and some private airline operators.