- Activist lawyer, Femi Falana, claimed Maikanti Baru, the group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation violated the NNPC act
- The lawyer said the defence of Baru failed to recognise Section 6 (c) of the NNPC act,
- Falana also insisted that Baru failed to respond to the unilateral appointments of key staff in the NNPC without the approval of the board of directors
Femi Falana (SAN) has accused Maikanti Baru, the group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) of violating the NNPC act by awarding contracts to the exclusion of the minister of state in the ministry of petroleum resources and the board of the NNPC.
The activist lawyer said the defence of Baru failed to recognise Section 6 (c) of the NNPC Act, which has vested the board of the NNPC with the exclusive power to”enter into contracts or partnerships with any company, firm or person which in the opinion of the Corporation will facilitate the discharge of the said duties under this Act.” the Nation reports.
Falana made this known in a press statement issued in Lagos on Wednesday, October 11.
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In the statement titled: “NNPC operates outside the law”, Falana said Baru failed to respond to the unilateral appointments of key staff in the NNPC without the approval of the board of directors.
Speaking on the management of the NNPC and contract awards, Falana said: “For the avoidance of doubt, Section 1 (2) of the NNPC Act states that the affairs of the Corporation shall be conducted by the Board of Directors of the Corporation. Since it is conceded by Dr. Baru that some contracts are subject to the approval of either the Board or the Federal Executive Council, he is yet to inform the Nigerian people who approved the $25 billion contracts
“It is pertinent to state, without any fear of contradiction, that by virtue of Section 3 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. 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 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 by-pass the Chairman of the Board in the award of the contracts and appointment of NNPC staff cannot be justified either under the NNPC Act," he said.
Going further, he said: “Since Dr. Kachukwu was not removed as the Chairman of the Board, the President ought not to have encouraged Dr. Baru to treat him with such pompous disdain and arrogance.”
Falana also argued that the impression given by Baru that once the president was briefed about the contracts, then due process had been observed was erroneous.
According to him, such a position was neither backed by the NNPC Act nor the PPA.
“The NCPP is not chaired by the President, but by the Minister of Finance. The other members of the NCPP include some officials of the Federal Government and representatives of relevant professional bodies and civil society organisations
“Apart from constituting the NCPP and the BPP the President has not been empowered to approve any contract whatsoever. In fact, there is no reference whatsoever to the Federal Executive Council in the entirety of 61 sections of the PPA. To that extent, the FEC presided over by the President cannot approve the award of contracts which is the exclusive duty of the NCPP and BPP
“Although the PPA was enacted in 2007, the President or the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has been approving multi-billion dollar or naira contracts, albeit illegally," he added.
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NAIJ.com had reported that the head of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru, reacted to allegations of corruption and insubordination raised against him by the minister of state for petroleum, Ibeh Kachikwu.
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