The House of Representatives yesterday resolved to investigate the circumstances that led to the $9.6bn judgment recently secured by Process and Industrial Developments Limited in a United Kingdom court against Nigeria.
The House also resolved to invite the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami and the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, for interrogation.
This was sequel to the adoption of a motion by Hon. Julius Ihonvbere, at yesterday’s plenary, entitled, ‘Motion for the Urgent Need to Investigate the Act of Negligence in the Handling of the Process and Industrial Development Limited’s Transaction by the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Respectively.’
He urged the House to set up an ad hoc committee “to as a matter of urgency, invite the ministers of both ministries as well as other officials of the ministries saddled with the responsibility to negotiate the agreement with P&ID and the prosecution of the matter before the tribunal, to give situational report on the matter and explain the lapse in judgment of time and due diligence in the (miss)handling of the case, with a view to finding lasting solutions to the avalanche of extant and future cases.”
The 17-man panel, set up by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, was mandated to recommend appropriate sanctions where necessary “without fear or favour or preference for status” in line with Order 14 of the Standing Orders of the House.
Ihovbere said for a country with a foreign reserve of only $45bn and a sovereign debt profile of over $80bn, the debt was punitive and would devastatingly affect Nigeria’s economy.
He stated: “The House is aware of the fact that Nigeria has a penchant for disregarding the sanctity of contracts and terms of agreement, coupled with the failure of Nigeria’s representatives in many cases to carefully or diligently scrutinise agreements they sign, knowing that the consequences will affect past and future generations.
“The House is alarmed that the agreement was somewhat shrouded in secrecy and, as such, apparently dubiously procured as those who ought to know about its existence did not. And more importantly, the relevant laws in Nigeria for the transaction to be consummated were not applied, especially Part IV of the Bureau of Public Procurement Act 2007 which deals with the fundamental principles of procurement.