By Iyobosa Uwugiaren
There are concerns over a motion expected to be moved on the floor of House of Representatives tomorrow by some members of the House Committee on Power against the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Company (NBET), Ms. Marilyn Amobi, over alleged gross misconduct and insubordination.
The motion is coming at a time when some representatives are saying that since President Muhammadu Buhari has moved NBET from the Ministry of Power to Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, the aggrieved lawmakers should drop the motion on the grounds that there is no locus stand upon which the Committee on Power should so act since the NBET should ideally be under the Committee on Finance.
The planned motion is being sponsored by Hon. Mohammed Ali Wudil; Hon. Muhammed Ibrahim Bukar; Hon. Usman Abdullahi; Hon. Olarenwaju Ibrahim, and Hon. Abubakar Yalleman.
The members’ complaints against Ms. Amobi is that in line with the provisions of the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives, the Committee on Power that is saddled with the responsibility of carrying out oversight on the Ministry of Power and its agencies, including the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Company (NBET), was in receipt of complaints and reports, which allegedly indicted the Managing Director of the NBET.
They also claimed that several anti-corruption agencies among which are the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation had earlier indicted the Amobi for corruption and mismanagement and that despite the present administration’s fight against corruption, she remained in office with attendant damages to the agency and the power sector in general.
The lawmakers further claimed that during the oversight visit by the Committee on Power to the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Company, Ms. Amobi exhibited complete disrespect and disregard for the committee.
However, a member of the newly reconstituted board told THIDAY last night in Abuja that the board is very concerned about the motive of the sponsors of the motion.
He said: ‘’I understand that the motion will be taken on Tuesday. Of course, I am not sure whether there is a provision for the House of Representatives Committee to discipline the Chief Executive Officer of a public limited liability company that is governed under the Companies and Allied Matters Act.
‘’At this time of serious issues across the country, a member of the House thinks the best thing to expend resources on is to chase issues that he cannot substantiate. Already they are promoting a doctored video, which suggested that the MD of NBET was rude to them.”
An insider said that the lawmakers’ allegations against Amobi were the same that had been made against her since she resumed as the MD of NBET.
According to the source, ‘’Ms. Amobi has never received any letter or communication regarding findings of corruption against her from the ICPC, EFCC or the Auditor-General’s Office.
‘’Against the allegation of the lawmakers, she has also not been found culpable for stealing N2Billion each month from the purse of NBET; or for over invoicing of the invoices that two power plants issue to NBET, namely the Olorunsogo and Omotosho power plants.
‘’In any case, you may recall that the NERC conducted an investigation on this matter and absolved her of any allegation of fraud. Indeed, the NERC reported that the two petitioners, Sambo and Waziri, were unable to show how the over invoicing or the stealing of N2Billion each month occurs.’’
THISDAY gathered that the payment to the Olorunsogo and Omotosho power plants had gone on since the power plants were privatised and this was way before Amobi joined NBET in August 2016 as MD.
‘’So the pioneer MD of NBET made the same payments; Waziri Bintube, the petitioner, made the same payments in his capacity as the acting MD/CEO, and Sambo Abdullahi processed the tickets/vouchers in his capacity as the internal auditor then. Ms. Amobi continued to make the payments since she joined NBET in August 2016,’’ the board member stated.
The understanding is that NBET is a PLC that is governed under the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), and not a parastatal of the Ministry of Power or any other ministry. And consistent with the CAMA and precedence with other companies of government, the MD is usually appointed for a period of five years in the first instance and can be renewed subject to the President and the Board of Directors’ approval.
In line with the rules that govern the company, any allegations of fraud, misapplication of public funds or disciplinary measures against the MD should be referred to the Board of Directors for determination.
‘’The president set the direction by doing that when in January 2020, he reversed the Amobi’s suspension by the Minister of Power and requested that the allegations are sent to the board for determination. It, therefore, goes without saying that the Committee on Power should send any of the allegations that they have on incompetence, gross misconduct, corruption and insubordination to the Board of Directors of the company, the board member insisted.