The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts on Tuesday disagreed with the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on the interpretation of its Act.
The disagreement was on the sections of the Act that dealt with remittance of funds to the Federation Account by the corporation.
The committee invited NNPC Group Managing Director, Mr. Mele Kyari to explain the financial operations of the corporation in 2015, following a query by the office of the Auditor General of the Federation.
The auditor general had queried NNPC for deducting N865bn from N2.4trn generated by the agency in 2015.
Explaining, Kyari said the actions of NNPC was backed by provisions of the law, which allowed it to make deductions of running costs from source.
“What we do is backed by the provisions of the law. First the NNPC Act is very clear that we should submit revenues net of our cost.
“There is also an informed decision of the Supreme Court and also the Attorney General of the Federation, that the position is correct and supported by the provisions of the law,” he said.
However, the Chairman of the Committee, Oluwole Oke (PDP-Osun) said the NNPC was a corporation owned by the country.
The lawmaker said the NNPC was expected to operate and make profit for the nation and that it was not acceptable for it to spend what it generated as running costs.
Oke said that there was need to come up with a bill that would make money available for the running cost of the agency, while remitting everything generated to the government.
“We need to read the provisions of the NNPC Act along with sections 80 and 81 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to be able to decide which is superior and which we are to follow.
“We will set up a sub-committee of legal minded members to read through the judgment of the Supreme Court on this matter vis-a-vis the letter from office of the Attorney General.
“We need to make an informed position of the matter. If the Supreme Court has taken a position, we need to be mindful of such.
“If we are in disagreement, the best option we have is to go into legislation, because it means the court has clearly interpreted the provisions of the law. Sources of law are judicial precedents.
“That is the way we can come up with an enactment, amendment, or repeal. So I want to suggest that we reserve ruling on the query bordering on deductions at source,” he said.
Oke said the committee would rule on the matter after a critical study of the law books and Supreme Court ruling.
Meanwhile, the NNPC on Tuesday also denied non remmitance of N4.76trn to the federation account as claimed by the 2016 report of the Office of Auditor -General of the Federation (OAGF).
Umar Ajiya, NNPC Chief Financial Officer, said this when he appeared before Senate Committee on Public Accounts to defend queries raised by AOGF against the corporation.
Umar said that the issue in question had to do with domestic crude that NNPC lifted to either refine and sell in exchange for refined products imported to the country.