Reps to probe oil majors over $14 billion penalties

Members of the House of Representatives at a plenary. PHOTO: TWITTER/DOGARA

• Investigate N895 billion power funds
• Move to unravel prison inmates’ deaths
• Seek upward review of tobacco taxes

Citing non-compliance with laws prohibiting gas flaring in the country, the House of Representatives yesterday resolved to investigate some international oil companies (IOCs) over their alleged refusal to pay penalties of over $14 billion to affected communities.

The chamber urged relevant agencies of government to undertake assessment of the affected area and order payment of compensation.‎

Consequently, an ad-hoc committee is to investigate the issue and report back to the whole house in eight weeks.

The resolutions followed the adoption of a motion on the ‘Need to Investigate the Loss of Over $14 Billion as a Result of Non-Payment of Gas Flared Penalties by International Oil Companies (IOCs) From April 2008 -2016’, sponsored by Ehiozuwa Johnson Agbonayinma (PDP, Edo) and six others.

Agbonayinma noted that gas flaring was harmful to the economy and the environment, reminding the chamber that toxic substances cause respiratory disorder, air pollution and depletion of the Ozone layer.

He quoted the Deputy Director and Head, Upstream of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) as saying at a recent conference in Houston, Texas, United States that “the country has lost $14.298 billion between April 2008 and October 2016 in form of penalties for gas flaring which the IOCs failed to pay.”

The lawmakers also resolved to investigate the planned disbursement of N701billion ‎as payment assurance facility and another N194 billion as interest by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

The funds, according to a motion sponsored by Chris Emeka Azubogu (PDP, Anambra), are to serve as emergency and long-term power sector recovery plan.

In his presentation, he said the ₦701 billion was for the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading as an intervention payments to the distribution companies (DISCOS).

The chamber, therefore, mandated its Committee on Power to investigate the matter with a view to ensuring that the entire process was geared towards significant improvement of power supply in the country. The panel was given four weeks to submit its findings.

Also, the House urged government to subside drugs as well as chemotherapy and radiotherapy services for cancer sufferers in state-owned hospitals.

The plea was consequent upon a motion co-sponsored by Zubairu Abdulmalik Bungudu (APC, Zamfara) and James Abiodun Faleke (APC, Kogi).

Equally, the chamber mandated its Committees on Interior and Human Rights to unravel the death of an inmate, Smart Ohuzu on September 24 this year and other deaths in prisons in the last 12 months.

The panels are also to conduct an assessment of the state of medical facilities nationwide.

Also yesterday, the legislators called for an upward review of tobacco taxes to discourage its consumption.

At the plenary presided over by Speaker Yakubu Dogara, the chamber submitted that the increase would generate funds to finance healthcare services.

The resolution followed the adoption of a motion jointly initiated by Sergius Ose Ogun (PDP, Edo) and Albert Abiodun Adeogun (PDP, Osun).



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