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$30bn NDPHC probe: Reps query illegal expenditure by boards …say stakeholders were shut out by executive fiat

$30bn NDPHC probe: Reps query illegal expenditure by boards …say stakeholders were shut out by executive fiat

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John Ameh, Abuja

An ad hoc committee of the House of Representatives said on Monday that past boards of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company were illegally constituted without the inputs of its stakeholders.

The panel noted that this was a breach of the Companies and Allied Matters Act.

At the opening of a public hearing in Abuja on the alleged abuse of over $30bn by the company, the committee stated that the past boards were set up by “executive fiat” by the National Economic Council in breach of CAMA.

The committee, which is chaired by Mr Darlington Nwokocha, said by implications, all the contracts and projects executed under the watch of the illegal boards were illegal.

Besides, the committee uncovered that the company had hardly held any Annual General Meeting since its coming into being.

A lawmaker from Benue State, Mr Mark Terseer-Gbillah, observed that so long as the boards breached the provisions of CAMA, all the activities of the company remained voided.

An attempt by the Managing Director of the company, Mr Chinedu Ugbo, and the General Manager, Legal Services, Mr Mohammed Nanmud, to explain that nominations were made by stakeholders to meetings, was waved down by the committee.

Addressing the MD, Terseer-Gbillah stated, “I beg to disagree with you in that regard because you are operating already as an entity.

“You are spending billions of Nigeria’s resources; you do not put the cart before the horse.

“We cannot wait for you to finish your annual returns before you go back to an AGM to ratify the appointments.

“That’s what was supposed to have been done before the management started to function.”

But to give the MD a fair chance for the defence, the committee asked him to supply evidence of the letters of nominations by the stakeholders to meetings.

The committee stated, “These are statutory provisions of an Act of this country; that, in itself, is one of the infractions we are already talking about.

“We have a board that was not constituted by the AGM as a requirement of law. We have a management that was not constituted in line with the provisions of the Act.

“This is because it’s a board that’s constituted by the shareholders that are supposed to appoint the management of the company.

“So, it’s apparent now that it’s by government fiat that appointments have been made to the management and board of this company against the extant laws of this country. Since 2016, this management has also expended funds.

“We will still want to know how much your management has spent and approved between when you are in place- whether with the oversight of the secretary or otherwise.

“We will still want to know how much you’ve spent of taxpayers’ money without some fundamental things being done.

“It was illegal and not legitimate, all the billions that have been spent whether by your own management or the management before yours.

“Because we are still waiting for annual returns before you constitute an AGM that is supposed to ratify people that are already spending the money that has been generated or paid into the company.

“These are the things we want to put into the right perspectives.”

The committee later adjourned till another date.

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