Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The Senate on Tuesday declined a request for the withdrawal of a petition against Chevron Nigeria Limited for alleged fraud amounting to over $4,926,464,100.
Â According to the Chairman, Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Senator Samuel Anyanwu (Imo East), the petitioner, Dr. George Uboh of Panic Alert Security System (PASS), had written to inform the committee of his decision to withdraw the petition. Uboh had petitioned the Senate through Senator Obinna Ogba (Ebonyi Central) on December 15, 2015.
Â Presenting the report of the committee, Anyanwu noted that Uboh and the Executive Director of Finance for Chevron, Mr. Uwakwe J.U, already appeared before the committee and made presentations.
Â Uboh, according to the report, had alleged that between 2001 and 2002, Chevron evaded tax to the tune of over $343 million through over bloating of its operational costs under Petroleum Profit Tax, using Carry Agreement with NNPC as a cover when such agreement never existed with the company.
â€œThat Chevron Nigeria Limited recouped spurious loan of $235 million from the Nigeria Government between 2002 and 2005 for overdue cash calls; that Chevron conspired with some oil producing companies, NNPC auditors and defrauded Nigeria by over $3.6 billion by merely manipulating accounts and records which were also done under the umbrella of Carry Agreements,â€ the report added.
Â The report stated that the representative of Chevron, Uwakwe, had denied that the oil company recouped spurious loans from the NNPC or from any other entity.
Â â€œChevron Nigeria Limited received notice of Assessment for Education Tax, Education Tax Gas and Gas Income tax and later made payment of $38,259,021 via Citibank on August 28, 2006, for the three assessments,â€ it added.
Anyanwu told the lawmakers that the committee was settling down to examine submissions of the petitioner and respondent, when the petitioner asked to withdraw his case.
â€œConsequently, the committee could not continue with the case, since the petitioner has given up on the matter. Based on the petitionerâ€™s decision to withdraw the case, the committee recommends that the case be stepped down,â€ Anyanwu added.
Â Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West), however, kicked and argued that the petitioner seemed inclined to waste the time of the lawmakers.
He added that the Ethics Committee, where he is a member had already spent time working on the petitions.
â€œThe Senate is not a police station; you cannot petition the Senate and come back later to say you have withdrawn it. It is expected that before a petition comes to this Senate, due diligence must have been done. We are talking of almost $5 billion,â€ he said.
Â Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, agreed with Melayeâ€™s submission, but added that the Senate should go ahead to conduct investigation into the petition, whether the petitioner withdraws it, or not.
Â â€œWe can refer it to the Committee on Finance, or set up an ad hoc committee to investigate it because this is about funds belonging to Nigeria. We are going to China and other places to borrow money, but if we recover this, it will go a long way,â€ he said.
Presiding, Senate President Bukola Saraki ruled that the petition would be investigated by an ad hoc committee.