The House of Representatives on Thursday said it would investigate the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, over alleged irregularities in the ongoing oil and gas lease renewal.
The lawmakers said it would also probe the involvement of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) on the allegations, NAN reports.
This followed a motion by Rep Chika Adamu (APC-Niger) at the plenary presided over by the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, in Abuja.
Moving the motion, Mr. Adamu expressed worry that the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the DPR were allegedly renewing leases of companies that had failed to pay royalties to the government from oil and gas lifted.
The lawmaker, who represents Shiroro/Rafi/Munya Federal Constituency, said this was in contravention of extant laws.
“The House notes that the Committee on Petroleum Resources Upstream, in December 2017, observed irregularities in the ongoing renewal of oil and gas leases being undertaken by the Honorable Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, and the Department of Petroleum Resources.
“It also notes that the Honourable Minister of Petroleum Resources is allegedly granting illegal discounts and rebates in the process of the ongoing renewal of leases.
“The House is aware that under the provisions of extant laws, failure to pay royalties is a ground for revocation of leases and a legal barrier to renewal of applicable leases.
“It is worried that the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Department of Petroleum Resources are allegedly renewing leases of companies that have failed to pay royalties to the government from oil and gas lifted by the said companies, which is in contravention of the extant laws.
“The House is concerned that the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Department of Petroleum Resources have deliberately, willfully and brazenly flouted the subsisting legal framework and due process mandated by extant laws for the renewal of leases,” he said.
According to him, the irregularities being perpetrated by the ministry and DPR in the ongoing lease renewal process were capable of denying government revenues in excess of $10 billon as a result of illegal discounts and rebates granted in the process of lease renewal.
He argued that the DPR had deliberately refused to provide the Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) with relevant information and data related to the ongoing lease renewal.
Adamu urged the House to thoroughly investigate the ongoing lease renewal being undertaken by Kachikwu and the DPR to ascertain the reasons for the anomalies observed.
He said this would help to identify appropriate measures to deal with the anomalies through appropriate legislative action.
When the motion was put on a voice vote by Mr. Dogara, the lawmakers unanimously supported it.
The speaker, therefore, mandated the Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) to investigate the matter and report back to the House within four weeks for further legislative action.