HomeOpinionsFalana SAN: Tinubu Not Screened As Required, Can’t Be Petroleum Minister

Falana SAN: Tinubu Not Screened As Required, Can’t Be Petroleum Minister

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A human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana has asked President Bola Tinubu to stop parading himself as the Minister of Petroleum, noting that the President did not face Senate Screening as required by the Constitution.

The fiery lawyer stated this while presenting a keynote address at the launch of the book ‘Dis Life No Balance: An Anthology of Diasporan Nigerian Voices’, authored by Professor Farooq Kperogi, Professor Moses Ochonu and Dr Osmund Agbo.

Falana said with the President as the Minister of Petroleum, it makes it difficult for the country to hold the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL) accountable.

“Last week, a former Governor of the Central Bank, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi advised President Bola Tinubu against occupying the office of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, saying that such an arrangement makes it difficult for the country to hold the NNPCL accountable.

“He also said the exchange rate needs to be stabilized and we have to address the fundamental questions; why is no money coming in? Why is the NNPCL unable to bring in dollars? Where are the dollars? The Finance minister cannot tell us because he does not have the monitoring system that reports to him, the Finance Minister can’t tell you how many barrels of petrol that we produce and export.

“It is only the NNPCL that can give the figures; the Ministry needs to know how much oil we produce in a day.

“We paid N11 trillion for 8 years under president Muhammadu Buhari to import fuel, so why are there no investigation in the respect to the colossal some of money and with respect, this is my answer; President Bola Tinubu is not the Minister of Petroleum Resources, as his nomination was never sent to the Senate for Screening as mandatorily required by Section 147 of the Constitution.

“My advice is that the President should not parade himself as a minister of Petroleum like President Olusegun Obasanjo and Muhammadu Buhari”, he said.

He said apart from asking the NNPCL to declare daily what Nigeria make from oil and gas, on April 27th, 2019 the Senate committee on Public Account held a public hearing in the National Assembly Complex and they were investigating the money Nigeria has made from LNG, a woman who represented the LNG did say that the country has been paid dividend of $18 billion from 2004 to 2020.

Falana said the woman also revealed that the LNG paid $9 billion tax from2011 till date, while another $15 billion paid to the NNPCL.

He said based on the disclosure, the Senate ordered the Accountant General of the Federation to produce the report on the disclosure by the LNG, but up till now, that report has not been made public.

“It may interest this audience to note that in 2020, 2021 and 2022, the NNPCL received the sum of $2.2 billion from the LNG and this money is meant for the Federation Account, therefore, the NNPCL is withholding illegally the total sum of $35.3 billion from the Federation Account”, the lawyer noted.

Furthermore, he said following the judgment of the supreme court in a case filed by 3 states, Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Bayelsa State, the Supreme Court in 2018, ordered that the Federal Government of Nigeria to recover from 6 oil companies royalties not collected for 18 years based on a sabotage on the implementation of a law.

He said the Federal Government called some accountants to find out how much that was owed, and they came up with a figure of $62 billion.

“So, we are talking of $62 billion and $35 billion, if the Federal Government can pluck up the courage to recover a substantial part of this money, our country will not be in the mess which we have found ourselves to the extent that we asking IMF, World Bank and other to give us loans repeatedly,” he added.

The book launch was added by the former Governor of Sokoto, Senator Aminu Tambuwal, former Governor Bayelsa State, Senator Seriake Dickson, representative of the Governor of Bayelsa State, Douye Diri former Presidential Aspirant, Omoyele Sowore and a Presidential Aide, Bayo Ononuga.

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