The House of Representatives has suspended investigation into an alleged breach of contract by Nigerian Agip Oil Company and failure to pay a local firm $30m following intervention of the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC) in the face off between the two parties.
Chairman of the House Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), Musa Sarkin-Ada, said since AGIP appeared to be serious about the issues raised in the petition before the House, they should be given the opportunity to defend the allegations.
The committee had on July 29, 2020 summoned the NNPC, Oando, Agip and other multinational companies to appear and explain irregularities in a contract awarded to a Nigerian company, De Coon Services Limited after the Managing Director Nelson Onubogu, told the committee that Agip owed him about $16m for a contract executed for the company.
De Coon Services Limited had in a petition to the House, accused Agip of failing to pay $16.5m debt arising from what it described as a stop-gap contract awarded to it in 2010 and which was executed but the firm was not paid.
Onubogu alleged he had been suppressed and intimidated to prevent him from getting paid and enjoying his rights.
He further alleged the power generators he supplied were being intentionally damaged as substances suspected to be salt were discovered in the engine oil after a test.
Onubogu alleged the multinational company breached all the contract agreements entered into between them as joint venture partners.
He claimed despite interventions by the NNPC and other stakeholders, Agip refused to bulge but terminated the contract without paying his company.
He said the contract was subsequently re-awarded to another company without due process.
But Agip wrote to the committee, stating it could not appear at the hearing because it had also been invited to appear before the House Committee on Public Petitions on the same matter.
It said even if it decided to appear before the panel, it could only do so in September since it was not in operation at the moment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sarkin-Ada partly said: “With this, I will like to crave the indulgence of our colleagues that due to the approach that Agip has adopted now, they are appearing to be serious and to listen to the complainant, and they are also trying to come and tell us their side of the story virtually, and the efforts being made by GMD to see that this things are resolved amicably, I think the public hearing will not continue.
“We will now allow them some time; we will give them another two weeks after which progress will be reported to this committee.
“And if nothing happens after then, then the full public hearing will go on. I think that will be the end of this meeting. We will adjourn for two weeks.”