Lawmakers Summon Finance Minister over Fuel Subsidy Claims 

Udora Orizu in Abuja

The House of Representatives special ad hoc committee investigating the petroleum subsidy regime has summoned the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, to make available before it all documents relating to subsidy claims from 2013 till date.

The Chairman of the committee, Hon. Ibrahim Aliyu, issued the summons at the investigative hearing on Tuesday, following the absence of the minister, who sent the ministry’s Director Home Finance, Stephen Okon, to represent her.

Okon had, in his presentation, told the lawmakers that he had to appear because the ministry did not want to pass information that was not properly processed before the parliament.

He therefore pleaded for an extension of time to collate information required before the committee, adding that he was not mandated to make any presentation before the committee.

He said: “The ministry holds the House in very high esteem. However, I was not sent here to make any presentation or submission but to ask for an extension of time to enable us to put all documents needed to make our presentation and submission. I sincerely apologise on behalf of the ministry for not sending a letter of authorisation for me to represent the ministry.” 

But the committee chairman said that the minister must provide answers to the total amount released from the consolidated revenue account as subsidy payment from 2013 till date.

He also said that the breakdown of benefitting companies that received subsidy payments from the consolidate revenue account must be submitted.

While describing as worrisome the recent statement by the minister that the country will require N6.7 trillion to service subsidy, he gave the minister August 16 to make herself available with all the relevant documents in subsidy claims.

He lamented the non-appearance of over seven companies that were to make an appearance before the committee and the fact that the companies also failed to send communications to that effect. 

Meanwhile, the committee also faulted Sahara Energy for discrepancies observed in documents submitted before the committee whereby Sahara Trade signed a letter of authorisation on behalf of Sahara Energy. 

The lawmakers vowed to query both companies to ascertain their incorporation. 

It was also established that there’s Sahara Group of Companies, Sahara Trade, and Sahara Energy Limited and the members insisted on ascertaining the coloration of both companies.

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