Thursday, 12 October 2017

Awarding contracts without Kachikwu is illegal - Falana tells NNPC boss Baru

Human Rights lawyer, Femi Falana has said Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru was wrong to have ‘unilaterally’ awarded contracts without the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources.

Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu had written a memo to President Muhammadu Buhari, where he accused Baru of $25bn contract scam.

Kachikwu also accused the NNPC boss of insubordination and sidelining him from important decisions.

Following the leakage of the memo, President Buhari had held a meeting with the Minister at the Presidential Villa.

Baru had also responded to the allegations, stating that no law mandates him to discuss contracts with Kachikwu.

In a statement on Wednesday, Falana said President Buhari should not have allowed Baru treat the minister “with such pompous disdain and arrogance”.

He added that the unilateral award of multi-billion dollar contracts by the NNPC boss was illegal.

“It is pertinent to state, without any fear of contradiction, that by virtue of section three of the NNPC Act the GMD as the chief executive of the corporation shall be responsible for the execution of the policy of the corporation and the day-to-day running of the corporation’s activities and its associated services,” it read.

“But contrary to the erroneous impression conveyed by the management of the NNPC, there is no conflict whatsoever between the provisions of the NNPC Act and the public procurement Act, 2007 to justify the usurpation of the powers of the NNPC board by the tenders board of the NNPC headed by the GMD.

“Therefore, the unilateral award of multi-billion dollar contracts in the NNPC by Dr. Baru or the tenders board is illegal, null and void in every material particular.

“With respect, the totality of Dr. Baru’s defence was anchored on the mistaken belief that the NNPC Act does not require him to report to the minister of state but to President Buhari in his capacity as the minister of petroleum resources.

“Dr. Baru must have forgotten that upon the removal of Dr. Kachikwu as the NNPC GMD in 2016 the president appointed him as the chairman of the reconstituted Board of the NNPC in line with section 3 of the NNPC Act. Therefore, the decision of Dr. Baru to bypass the chairman of the board in the award of the contracts and appointment of NNPC staff cannot be justified either under the NNPC Act.”

Meanwhile, NNPC on Wednesday said two oil contracts worth N640 billion were granted approval by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo while he was acting President, Premium Times reports.

Recall that a critical analysis of the NNPC reply to Kachikwu showed that NNPC received presidential approvals for at least two contract awards during the time President Muhammadu Buhari was on medical leave in London.

The statement said NNPC received presidential approvals for two oil contracts on July 10 and July 31 worth $1 billion and $780 million, respectively, while Buhari was on medical leave.

When quizzed further, Ughamadu added, “Presidential approval is presidential approval.”

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