House of Representatives on Tuesday postponed the public hearing on Diezani Alison-Madueke’s alleged spending of public funds on charted aircraft.
The House committee on public accounts abruptly shifted the hearing scheduled for June 17 to June 26, Punch reports.
A source told Punch that most of the committee members were not available as the House is on break till June 24.
However, another source disclosed that “tremendous pressure” being mounted on the committee to play down the probe as well as lack of funding for the hearing remained the major setbacks.
“I can see some foot-dragging here and there. It doesn’t appear the committee has even been funded to start the hearing,” a National Assembly official said.
“They [the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company and Alison-Madueke] do not want the hearing to take place and we can understand why they keep running from one court to another in their hope to frustrate the committee,” the official added.
When contacted by Punch corespondents on Tuesday, the Chairman of the committee Solomon Olamilekan said there was no going back on the probe. “We are going ahead with our assignment; we don’t work on speculation. … I will go ahead with the hearing and the committee will submit its report to the House,” he assured.
Another source disclosed that the petroleum minister would continue to shun the House committee. “She is not likely to come; the excuse is already on the ground. She will hide under the cases she filed in courts to refuse to appear. The minister has done everything possible to ensure that this hearing does not take place,” said the source.
It was also gathered that the NNPC and the PPMC had told the committee they would not appear for the hearing. Sources noted that if the key stakeholders – Alison-Madueke, NNPC and PPMC – failed to appear before the MPs, the investigation would be foiled.
“What purpose will the probe serve if the minister, who is at the centre of the N10bn allegation, will simply stay away without making any submissions?,” one of the sources said.
It would be recalled that the House of Reps ordered an investigation of an alleged squandering of public funds by the petroleum minister. It has been alleged that Alison-Madueke spent N10bn of state funds in the last two years to charter, operate and maintain a jet, Challenger 850, for her personal use.