The Senate, on Tuesday, declined a request for the withdrawal of a petition against Chevron Nigeria Limited over an alleged fraud amounting to $4,926,464,100.
According to the Chairman, Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Samuel Anyanwu (Imo East), the petitioner, Dr. George Uboh of Panic Alert Security System, wrote the committee, seeking for the withdrawal of the petition filed before the panel.
Uboh had petitioned the Senate through Senator Obinna Ogba (Ebonyi Central) on December 15, 2015.
The committee, in its report on the case, which was considered at the plenary on Tuesday, recommended that the petition be withdrawn.
The report said Uboh and the Executive Director of Finance for Chevron, Mr. J. U. Uwakwe, appeared before the committee and made presentations.
Uboh, according to the report, had alleged that between 2001 and 2002, Chevron evaded tax amounting to over $343m through inflation of its operational costs under the Petroleum Profit Tax, using Carry Agreement with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation as a cover, when such agreement never existed with the company.
The petitioner alleged that, “Chevron Nigeria Limited recouped spurious loan of $235m from the Nigerian federation between 2002 and 2005 for overdue cash calls; that Chevron conspired with some oil-producing companies and the NNPC auditors and defrauded the Federation of Nigeria by over $3.6bn by merely manipulating accounts and records, which were also done under the umbrella of Carry Agreements.”
The panel, however, said in its report that the representative of Chevron, Uwakwe, denied that the oil company recouped spurious loans from the NNPC or from any other entity.
The representative was quoted as saying, “Chevron Nigeria Limited received Notice of Assessment for Education Tax, and Gas Income tax and later made payment of $38,259,021 via Citibank on 28th August, 2006, for the three assessments.”
Anyanwu told the lawmakers that the committee was settling down to examine the submissions by Uboh and the respondent when the petitioner asked that the case should be withdrawn.
The report said, “Consequently, the committee could not continue with the case, since the petitioner has given up on the matter. Based on the petitioner’s decision to withdraw the case, the committee recommends that the case be stepped down.”
But Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West) opposed the recommendation. He lamented that the withdrawal meant that the lawmakers had been made to waste their time and resources in the handling of the case.
He said, “The Senate is not a police station. You cannot petition the Senate and come back later to say you have withdrawn it. It is expected that before a petition comes to this Senate, due diligence must have been done. We are talking of almost $5bn,” he said.
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, also opposed the withdrawal of the petition and urged the Senate to go ahead and conduct investigation into the petition, whether the petitioner withdraws it or not.
“We can refer it to the Committee on Finance or set up an ad hoc committee to investigate it because this is about funds belonging to Nigeria. We are going to China and other places to borrow money; if we recover this, it will go a long way,” he said.
The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, who presided over the plenary, ruled that the petition would be investigated by an ad hoc committee.
Follow us on Twitter at @thesignalng
Copyright 2017 SIGNAL. Permission to use portions of this article is granted provided appropriate credits are given to www.signalng.com and other relevant sources.