The Public Accounts Committee of the House of Representatives has written the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, to furnish it with information on the controversial Challenger 850, the jet the minister reportedly chartered for her trips.
The committee, which is chaired by Mr. Solomon Olamilekan, is investigating the alleged N10bn expenses the minister incurred on the jet in the last two years.
The committee had said it also stumbled on information on two other jets, including a Global Express XRS, which Alison-Madueke was said to have chartered for similar purposes.
A return trip on the Global Express XRS for example, is said to cost 600,000 Euros, according to information at the disposal of the committee.
Preparatory to a hearing on the issue, the committee has therefore written the minister, asking her to provide answers to some questions.
The letter, which was signed by Olamilekan, asked Alison-Madueke to provide details on the Challenger 850.
She was also asked to explain whether she was entitled to a chartered jet for her trips “as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
The main thrust of the letter was that the minister should prove that she did not commit a “breach of public office” by spending public funds on chartered jets.
The letter directed the minister to quote the relevant laws of the country that permitted her to charter jets.
Findings showed that the committee had written another letter to the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mr. Andrew Yakubu, on the same subject.
The House committee asked the GMD to furnish it with information on the sources of funding for the jets.
The committee noted that the NNPC had been busy defending the minister since the House passed a resolution to probe the expenses two weeks ago.
A source close to the committee, told The PUNCH, “The letter to the NNPC is simple. It is saying you (NNPC) seem to know so much about the transactions.
“You have been going all over the media defending the minister; so come and give us more details.”
The committee has also written letters to two aviation companies, Evergreen Aviation Terminal and Vista Jet International, on the subject.
The companies were directed to provide information on “flight manifest” and how many times the minister had chartered their jets since 2011.
“Another key parastatal that will be useful to the investigation is Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria. The committee wrote them as well to provide information on the operations of these jets,” another source stated.
Efforts by our correspondent to reach Olamilekan for comments on Wednesday failed.
He neither picked his calls nor responded to text messages sent to him by our correspondent.