Diezani jet scandal: House to summon aircraft owner, others

The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke

The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke

The House of Representatives has vowed not to leave any stone unturned in its investigation into the alleged N10bn spent on a private jet reportedly chartered by the Petroleum Minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.

A motion endorsed by the House on Thursday indicated that Alison-Madueke allegedly spent N10bn to run the jet for her personal trips within the country and abroad.

A member from Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Adejare, who moved the motion, informed the House that maintaining the jet alone, gulped N3.120bn in the last two years.

He stated that the minister reportedly spent N130m monthly to keep the jet.

Speaking to Sunday PUNCH on the House resolution, the Chairman, Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Zakari Mohammed, said the investigation would be thorough, regardless of the high positions of persons involved.

“This is one investigation that the House will not conduct hurriedly.

“It will be done thoroughly because we have a duty to expose corruption wherever it exists,” he said.

However, Mohammed noted that the matter was still at the level of investigation, adding that no conclusion had been drawn that the minister abused her office yet.

He added, “That is why it is called an investigation; that is why we have to be thorough. The House is not after any particular official of government; no, that is not the idea.

“We are here to serve public interest and trust. This investigation is not a witch-hunt, we are looking for evidence and facts. But, we are prepared and will not let anything go unnoticed.”

Findings by our correspondent showed that the Committee on Public Accounts, given the responsibility of conducting the investigation, would summon the minister after it had gathered additional information from “other stakeholders.”3006 Diezani Alison-Madueke, former Petroleum Resources Minister

It was learnt that before Thursday’s resolution of the House, the committee, which is chaired by Mr. Solomon Olamilekan, had been following up on allegations “concerning the minister’s excesses.”

A National Assembly source who pleaded anonymity, added, “Why a motion was necessary on Thursday was because the investigation had reached a point where the committee needed the mandate of the House to proceed.

“A resolution of the House empowered the committee to get to the root of the matter. In due time, the committee will invite the minister to speak on the allegation.

“She may choose to ignore the committee. The committee can go ahead to get the mandate of the Speaker to issue a warrant for her arrest to compel her to appear.

“With Thursday’s resolution, it would be on record that the committee had the mandate of the legislature to investigate the private jet she chartered.”

SUNDAY PUNCH gathered that among parties to be invited by the committee would be the firm that leased the jet to Alison-Madueke, top officials of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Ministry of Finance.

“There are pertinent questions to be answered. How does she pay for the services of this jet? Is there a budgetary provision? Who approved it? Is a minister entitled to a private jet funded by public resources? These and many more will come to fore in the course of the investigation,” another source said.

Last week, lawmakers raised the alarm that the alleged N10bn expenses on the jet “eclipsed” the N255m bulletproof cars said to have been procured for former Aviation Minister, Ms. Stella Oduah, by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority in 2013.

“This case is worse than Oduah’s case. From N255m, we are now talking of N10bn. How many more ministers are living this lifestyle unknown to the public?” the source added.

Related posts

Leave a Comment