• Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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Reps adjourn probe of $500bn China loan to next week


The House of Representatives Committee on Treaties, Agreements, and Protocols investigating $500 billion loan obtained by the Federal Government from China for railway projects has adjourned proceedings to next week.

Chairman of the Committee, Ossai Nicholas (PDP, Delta), who announced this Tuesday at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja, said this was to give lawmakers time to study the documents submitted by various Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

Ossai said: “Yesterday, we requested a lot to come before us. The Honourable Minister of Police Affairs submitted his yesterday. And those documents got to me this morning and also got to my colleagues this morning.

“The Honourable Minister of FCT, submitted this morning. It got to us this morning. Also, other agencies that are here. Honourable colleagues, you are aware that I am the Chairman of this Committee and I will not ambush my colleagues in terms of when documents are submitted to them, because we will need to digest most of these documents clause by clause.

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“Also, there is an important office in this country which is part and parcel of the negotiating team;  that is the Ministry of Justice which has been reached. They need to be part and parcel of this because of the revelation that is coming out now on most of these clauses and these articles we have seen embedded in the documents.

“We also need the Ministry of Justice to be able to interface with them. More importantly, we also need the minister of finance, who is supposed to be here.  Who signed most of these agreements with other countries. We also need the DG of the Debt Management Office (DMO) is supposed to be here.

“We cannot interrogate other agencies without these bodies been around. And coupled with the fact that these documents just arrived. “So we are seeking the indulgence of my committee members to be able to look at this issues and probably adjourn for one week to enable us to digest this matter,  look at this matter and invite the honourable ministers that are here and those of them that are not here so that we can be able to conclude this matter as soon as possible and make recommendations to National Assembly.

“We want to make far-reaching recommendations because it is very very key in Nigeria going forward. We must be able to make sure that the generation that is unborn and the generation that are young,  we must bequeath a Nigeria that is strong, a Nigeria that economically is very strong and sound. That is the essence of why we are representing Nigeria”.

However, a member of the Committee who does not want to mentioned told journalists in confidence that the panel may call for the prosecution of the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi for allegedly lying on oath.

According to the lawmaker, while the Minister told the committee on Monday that 20,000 Nigerians were employed in the Lagos-Ibadan rail project, only 14, 273 have actually been engaged.

He said the Committee discovered from the documents submitted by the Ministry of Transportation that only 14,273 Nigerian have been engaged for the project.

The Committee’s member stated that contrary to the Minister’s submission, there are 596 Chinese personnel occupying over 40 percent of positions such as civil engineers, senior technical officers, and technicians.

He also accused the Minister of failing to submit some of the documents demanded from him. The documents include a copy of addendum no.2 in respect of the Nigerian Railway modernization project dated 28th August 2012.

The lawmaker said other missing documents expected from the Minister are: “Schedule showing payments made thus far on the commercial agreements being implemented by the Federal Ministry of Transportation and soft copy of China-linked project agreements being handled by the Ministry as well as the certificate of interim claim from the contractors”.

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