Unremitted Revenue: Reps Investigate 77 Oil Firms Over N2.6tn
By Alabidun Shuaib Abdulrahman
The House of Representatives, has Tuesday, began an investigation into the N2.6 trillion due to the Federal Government by 77 oil firms operating in Nigeria.
The House is considering the Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative’s 2019 report.
Femi Gbajabiamila, the Speaker of the House, has indicated that the parliament may be obliged to employ constitutional provisions against any firm or figure that fails or refuses to cooperate with the probe.
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Gbajabiamila observed that N2.6 trillion is a significant sum of money that should not be thrown away, particularly at a time when the Federal Government is facing a revenue shortfall to cover its annual budget.
He said, “To underscore the importance of this exercise, let me make a bold statement that if there are companies or individuals that refuse to cooperate with the committee during this exercise, it may be the first time in the 9th Assembly or in the history that I will personally invoke the provisions of the Constitution and have such person arrested. That is how important this exercise is.
The Speaker added, “There is direct nexus between revenue generation and infrastructural development. It is also very important and that is why the House, in its wisdom, decided to put in place an ad hoc committee even though there is a standing committee that works directly in this area. I expect that the deliberation will be thorough and interrogate if it is true that the NEITI report is what it is.”
According to Gbajabiamila, N2.6tn is a significant sum of money under any circumstances, stating that, “When the country is confronting significant revenue shortages, coupled with an overwhelming need to address longstanding developmental challenges, there is a greater obligation on the government to do all that is necessary to recover these sums.”
He said these were the reasons the House resolved to “investigate these debts, conduct a proper reconciliation of accounts between the Federal Government and oil companies, and urge the National Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, the National Oil Spill Detection Agency, and the Federal Inland Revenue Agency to provide the data required to facilitate the recovery of debts owed to the Federal Government by the oil and gas companies.”
Chairman of the committee and Deputy Chief Whip of the House, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, decried that why the government was in need of funds to finance the 2022 Appropriation Act, some oil firms were holding on to its revenue.