Senator Magnus Abe
By Kunle Akogun
Contrary to speculations that the Senate might have dumped the fuel subsidy probe it initiated in November last year due to pressures from some quarters, the upper chamber Monday said the probe was on course and its report would soon be released.
Chairman of the Senate Joint Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), Finance and Appropriation, investigating the N1.3 trillion fuel subsidy fund management, Senator Magnus Abe, said the probe report had not been released because the committee was still analysing the tonnes of documents and oral presentations it received during its public hearings which ended in February.
Abe told journalists in Abuja that the committee “received bags and bags of documents from each of these subsidy participants and we needed to take our time to peruse these papers as dispassionately as possible.”
He said in trying to be as thorough as possible, “the committee is bound to take quite a bit of time,” adding that after the House of Representatives started its investigation, the Senate had to put its own on hold and the committee didn’t resume until the House finished everything it was doing.
He said: “Because we didn't want to create a conflict between both chambers of the National Assembly since they had resumed on a Sunday and had taken off, we decided to hold on until they finished and that was what we did.
“So, it's only proper that since they finished first, their report would naturally come in first before ours but we are taking our time to see that as much as possible, we do a thorough job that we ourselves would be ready to own up to what we have done.”
On the speculation that the delay in releasing the probe report could be as a result of pressures from affected subsidy beneficiaries, Abe said: “Personally, nobody has spoken to me and nobody has tried to influence me and I have not received any such report from any of my colleagues.”
Noting that in a situation like this there would always be speculations, Abe however assured that the committee wants its report to be as factual as possible.”