By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Musa Adamu
Senate yesterday resolved to summon the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, to brief it on the $9.6 billion judgement delivered by a United Kingdom court against the Federal Government.
This was sequel to a debate on a motion brought before it under Matters of Urgent National Importance by Michael Bamidele (PDP, Ekiti).
Based on this, the lawmakers asked that Malami and officials of Ministry of Petroleum Resources, alongside professional arbitrators on behalf of the Federal Government to meet with the Senate committees on Judiciary and Human Rights Matters, Petroleum Upstream and Gas Resources and Power.
Those to appear before the senate committee are to provide details of the 2010 contract, the reasons for the default, handling of resultant negotiations, court proceedings and steps being taken to resolve the matter.
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan said the case of the $9.6 billion judgment debt against Nigeria is “another reminder on why we should strengthen our processes and procedures so that questionable firms would not take advantage of us.”
In a related development, the Senate president yesterday said the resumption of the upper chamber from its two months annual recess will be a time for action, even as he cautioned the federal government against dealing with foreign firms that have questionable reputation.
In his welcome address, Lawan told his colleagues that “this resumption is a time for action. It is time to proceed on key issues of governance. Our committees shall be our engine rooms. We will do all that is possible to improve their operational efficiency,” Lawan said.
Lawan urged senators to remain united with a view to succeed despite their political differences.
The Senate President also urged his colleagues to be ready to set the ball rolling on confronting the nation’s challenges through diligent law making, effective representation and thorough oversight of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government.
He added that the Senate will renew and redouble its efforts on the much awaited Petroleum Industry Bill and tackle the issues of youth unemployment, insecurity and agriculture.
Lawan reiterated an earlier resolve to pass the 2020 budget before the end of December to avoid delays in fiscal and governance processes.
The Senate President said the recent Xenophobic attack in South Africa was a sad development and urges a review and strengthening of the nation’s citizen diplomacy.