Dec 14, 2012 – Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s Arrest Threatened By House Of Rep Over N20bn Fuel Subsidy Dispute
For failing to appear before it twice, the House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions, on Thursday, threatened to order the arrest of the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and the Group Managing Director of Access Bank Plc, Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imokhuede.
The committee, which is headed by Mr. Uzo Azubuike, said the two were needed to help resolve the N20bn fuel subsidy dispute between the Chairman of Coscharis Motors Limited, Mr. Cosmas Maduka, and the Managing Director of Capital Oil, Mr. Ifeanyi Uba.
The committee had postponed sitting last week to Thursday due to the absence of the minister and the Access Bank GMD.
But on Thursday, Azubuike was angry that they “shunned” the committee again.
He said though the committee was aware that the minister’s mother was kidnapped, it was not a reason to ignore the invitation.
Azubuike added that since the invitation was for the Ministry of Finance, the minister ought to have mandated a representative to present the position of ministry.
He warned that if a representative was not sent to the next sitting of the committee, a warrant of arrest would be issued in the name of the ministry.
It will be recalled that Aig-Imokhuede headed the Presidential Committee on Verification of Subsidy Payments.
On Thursday, his lawayers wrote the committee, saying he no longer functioned in that capacity.
He claimed that his committee had already completed its assignment and submitted a report to the Federal Government.
The Access Bank GMD added that he had no legal authority to appear before any committee in the capacity of head of the presidential panel.
He also pointed out that there were several court cases on the matter the committee was investigating, hence it would be prejudicial for him to speak on it.
But, the committee dismissed the argument and directed that he should appear unfailingly at the next adjourned date.
However, the main actors in the deal gone awry – Maduka and Uba – were present.
But, rather than respond to the questions of the committee, Maduka said the matter was already in court.
His lawyer, Mr. Osita Mbamalu, produced evidence to the committee to buttress Maduka’s argument.
On his part, lawyer to Uba, Mr. Ben Nwosu, opposed the argument that the matter was in court and should not be discussed.
Nwosu appealed to the committee to find ways of asking the Central Bank of Nigeria to pay his client’s N2.1bn Sovereign Debt Note as approved by the Debt Management Office.
Nwosu also called on the committee to help his client to be paid his N20bn subsidy claims.
According to him, there are “conflict of interests” in the Aig-Imoukhuede report and should be discarded.
“It is not possible for him to be a judge, jury and prosecutor in a matter he has interest”, he added.
The investigation will continue next week.