*As Corporation describes Kachikwu’s allegation as baseless
One of the leading human rights activists and past President of Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Dr Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, Monday dragged the federal government to court over what he described as lopsided appointments in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
In a statement by the Media Assistant, Niyi Odunmorayo, Agbakoba filed the suit at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
He challenged the decision by the federal government not to include somebody from the South East on the Board of the NNPC, adding that this was a contravention provisions of Section 14 of the Constitution, as well as the Federal Character Commission Act of the “provisions of Sections 42 of the Constitution of Nigeria that prohibits discrimination of any of Nigeria’s ethnic groups such as, in this case, the South-East.”
He prayed the court to declare the appointment without the inclusion of the South East region as “unconstitutional, null and void”.
Meanwhile, the NNPC in reaction to the allegations by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, that his board was sidelined by the Group Managing Director, Dr. Maikanti Baru, claimed the issues raised were baseless.
But the Corporation remained silent on the appointments of senior officials without the involvement of the board.
The Corporation’s spokesman, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, who disclosed that President Muhammad Buhari has directed Baru to respond to the allegations added that NNPC followed due process as far as procurement process on contracts was concerned.
“Following the publication of alleged lack of adherence to due process in the award of NNPC contracts, the president ordered the Group Managing Director and management of NNPC to consider and respond expeditiously to the allegations.
“It is important to note from the outset that the law and the rules do not require a review or discussion with the minister of state or the NNPC board on contractual matters. What is required is the processing and approval of contracts by the NNPC Tenders Board (NTB), the president in his executive capacity or as minister of petroleum, or the Federal Executive Council (FEC), as the case may be.”
“There are therefore situations where all that is required is the approval of the NNPC Tenders Board while in other cases, based on the threshold, the award must be submitted for presidential approval. Likewise, in some instances it is FEC approval that is required.”
“It should be noted that for both the crude term contract and the Direct Sale and Direct Purchase (DSDP) agreements, there are no specific values attached to each transaction to warrant the values of $10 billion and $5 billion respectively placed on them in the claim of Dr. Kachikwu.
“It is therefore inappropriate to attach arbitrary values to the shortlists with the aim of classifying the transactions as contracts above the NNPC Tenders Board limit. They are merely the shortlisting of prospective off-takers of crude oil and suppliers of petroleum products under agreed terms.
“These transactions were not required to be presented as contracts to the board of NNPC and, of course, the monetary value of any crude oil eventually lifted by any of the companies goes straight into the federation account and not to the company.”