The lawmakers think that the process appears “non-transparent and without recourse to due process”.
The Senate therefore set up a seven-man investigative panel led by Abubakar Kyari to investigate the allegation of breach of due process in the concession arrangement. Members of the panel are Dino Melaye, Aliu Wammakko, Duro Faseyi, Sabo Mohammed, Benjamin Uwajumogu and Mattew Urhoghide.
The committee is expected to submit a report explaining how and why such a deal was sealed and what criteria was used to select Agip/ENI and OANDO Plc to maintain and operate the Port Harcourt Refinery and at what cost and time-frame.
Speaking at plenary on Tuesday, Senator Atai Adoko noted that all processes and transactions should be stopped until the committee submits its report.
This followed a Motion moved by Senator Sabo Mohammed representing Jigawa South, who expressed sadness over the deal, during the plenary on Tuesday.
Senator Sabo in the Motion raised concerns that the planned concession without recourse to due process “was illegal and a clear attempt at ridiculing Nigerians as well as creating a big hole in the anti corruption crusade of the current administration”.
Mohammed said the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, had revealed that the agreement was part of a broader government plan to increase capacity for local production and consumption of petroleum products with the aim of ending fuel importation in Nigeria by 2019.
The lawmaker further observed that the planned concession was without recourse to due process and described it as illegal and a clear attempt at ridiculing Nigerians. He said the action would create a hole that would be hard to fill in the anti-corruption crusade of the administration.
On the alleged bias in the process of selecting AGIP and OANDO Plc as partners to operate the Port Harcourt Refinery and Petrochemical Company, Kachikwu revealed that final decision had not been reached.
He said the Federal Government had decided to concession all the four refineries in the country by August this year. “We hope to award the contracts by July/August and hopefully between 12 and 18 months to be able to get the refineries fully back, and the model is to bring investors, who will repair the refineries and recoup their money from the incremental production.
“We are ready to offer all the refineries for investors who have money to repair and manage. People keep mentioning AGIP and OANDO Plc but nobody has made the final decision on those, they are probably the front runners because they put a lot of work on that, but I am not in the technical committee.
“I am the chair of the steering committee, when the technical committee meets and finishes their work, they will refer it to the steering committee and then it goes to NNPC Board, so all the hullabaloo about transparency of the exercise will stop.”
Sabo further drew the attention of the Senate to what he called ‘several defects’ in the planned concession of the refinery.