ON August 16, 2011, which was the eve of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s resumption as Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance last year, the Minister of State for Finance, Dr. Yerima Ngama and the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Muhammed Adoke authorised the transfer of about $1.1 billion from an offshore account of the Federal Government into the account of Malabu Oil, owned by former Minister of Petroleum, Mr. Dan Etete.
Several months after however, news of the transfer filtered to the media and tongues began wagging as to the propriety of the action.
In an attempt to make clarifications, Adoke said that in 2001, government cancelled the allocation of the oil block OPL 245 to Malabu Oil and transferred same to Agip and Shell. So, how did Malabu become entitled to the money paid for the oil block by foreign oil firms and how did federal Government become an intermediary for the payment, the press and interested Nigerians asked?
On May 31, 2012, Mr. Robinson Uwak, a lawmaker from AkwaIbom State raises a motion on the floor of the House of representatives, calling for an enquiry into the allegations and the Speaker promptly mandated a committee to investigate and hearing was fixed for Thursday, October 4, 2012.
However, on the appointed day, none of the invited officials was ready for the probe as many of them were absent while those present offered various excuses on why they did not attend with documents or ready for testimonies.
Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, who was to make the lead presentation at the opening of the probe, claimed that she did not receive any of the four letters sent to her by the ad-hoc committee led by Deputy House Leader, Leo Ogor on the purpose of the investigation.
According to her, “the letters did not get to me; maybe they were sent to the Permanent Secretary,” and asked to be given till the following week to produce all the documents requested by the committee.
Although the Minister of State for Finance, Dr. YerimaNgama, was present, he also told the committee that the ministry needed time to “actually put our documents together.”
Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Jonah Otunla also refused to respond to any of the letters sent to him and shunned the session. Ogor told the session that AGF was asked to provide information in respect of the Signature Bonus payments for the transaction.
For the Adoke (SAN), the excuse for not attending the session was because he had to attend to another assignment involving discussions on the International Court of Justice’s judgment on the Bakassi peninsula.
He sent a letter to the committee requesting for a shift in the date of the hearing to enable him address members on the legal aspect of the deal.