By Lawrence Olaoye
There are indications that fresh troubles await the Minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, and the management of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as the House of Representatives uncovers details on the alleged use of chartered private jets running into several billions of Naira.
This is coming as the stage has been set for the probe of the private jets charter transactions, as the House Committee on Public Accounts, charged to undertake the probe, has written to all stakeholders involved to provide it with requisite information on the transactions.
A member of the committee chaired by Rep Adeola Solomon, who craved for anonymity because he was not mandated to speak for the panel, disclosed that the lawmakers have uncovered several new flight schedules operated on foreign trips by the Minister between 2012 and 2013, using the GLOBAL EXPRESS XRS—TAIL NO: S5-GMG and TAIL NO: OE-LGX,OE-LSS and OE-INA respectively.
According to the new passengers’ manifest, like the previous ones, the name of the Minister and those of Momoh Prince Haruna Omoye and Abubakar Fari Ahmed featured frequently on the trips.
In the new discovery, it was alleged that one trips gulped the sum of $300,000 (equivalent of N50m),the same journey which the lawmaker asserted could have cost about N7.5million. Another trip undertaken December 21st, 2012 from the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja to Matson Airport in the United Kingdom with the GLOBAL EXPRESS XRS with the tail number: OE-LGX gulped N57.5million, as against the normal N6million were it to have been undertaken with normal flight.
The source also disclosed that the committee suspected that there may not have been any solid contractual agreements between the Ministry and the private jets owners for the lease of their 850 challenger aircraft for the Minister’s use. But frantic efforts were now reportedly being made to perfect since the matter became public knowledge.
It was learnt that the committee, through a letter signed by its chairman and dated March 26th, had informed the Minister and other stakeholders of the House’s decision to probe the chartered private jets deal following a motion of ‘urgent national importance’ moved by Hon Samuel Adejare to that effect.
Those to appear before the committee to testify include the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mr. Andrew Yakubu; Evergreen Aviation Terminal and VistaJet International, the operators of the private jets as well as the authorities of the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
According to the source, Diezani is to furnish the committee within one week all she knew about the transactions; whether or not as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria she is entitled to the luxury of chartered private jets for private use; whether or not she has not breached public service rules and state who is responsible for the bills for the chartered jets.
The source disclosed that NNPC GMD would also furnish the committee, within one week, information relating to the deal from 2011 till date; the level of involvement of the Corporation; the contractual agreement between the Corporation and the operators of the private jets and its financial commitment to it since 2011 till date among others.
Also, the source disclosed that the private jets operators was required to provide the committee the contract agreements between them and the NNPC from 2011 till date; 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.
After the submission of memoranda by those involved in the deal, the source disclosed, the committee would fix a date for the public hearing.