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Oil Minister Gets Court Injunction Against Chartered Jets Probe
The House of Representatives said on Monday, that a Federal High Court order is delaying the investigation of the alleged N10 billion spent on chartered aircrafts by Nigeria’s Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.
“The nature of the court order is simple. They are just restraining us from carrying out our own investigation. I don’t know what they are afraid of that they have gone to court,” said the chairman of the committee on Public Accounts, Solomon Olamilekan.
The House on March 27th, 2014 ordered the committee to investigate the minister’s alleged use of state funds to charter private jets for her personal use.
The committee in turn had asked the minister to within one week submit a written presentation stating all she knows about the transactions for the chartered private jets, whether or not she was entitled by her portfolio to charter private jets for private use and whether or not she has breached public service rules by her actions.
It also sought to know the source of funding for such high taste and other necessary information that would assist it in getting to the root of the matter.
The committee also sought explanations from the group managing director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Andrew Yakubu, the Evergreen Aviation Terminal and Vista Jet International as well as the Authorities of the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria, FAAN and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA.
It also requested the concerned private jet operators to make available copies of the contract agreements between them and the NNPC from 2011 till date; including all the flight schedules, the passengers’ manifests from the 2011 till date and the amount of money paid to them during the period under review.
Olamilekan said the committee had received responses from other groups involved in the investigation including Vistajet International and Executive Jet Hangar and that the only responses being awaited by the committee are those from the ministry of petroleum, the NNPC, NCAA, and FAAN.
Spokesperson for the NNPC, Ohi Alegbe, said Monday that the injunction was not unusual.
“There is nothing strange about it. There is a precedence,” he said.
The House of Representatives however, said it will study the order and decide on a response.
“As a law abiding arm of government, we will tarry a while and of course take a legal opinion as far as issues are concerned,” said Zakary Mohammed, a spokesperson for the House.
It is therefore unclear when the probe will commence.