According to reports, the official trip by some members of the probe panel to Russia scuttled its inaugural meeting scheduled for Tuesday last week.
The meeting is now scheduled to hold on Tuesday because key figures on the panel were on the entourage of President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, to the just concluded Inter-Parliamentary Union conference hosted by Russia.
Members of the panel are Senators Tayo Alasoadura, Kabiru Marafa, Bassey Akpan, Samuel Anyanwu, Ahmed Ogembe, Chukwuka Utazi, Rose Okoh and Baba Kaka Garbai.
The lawmakers are probing the allegations of insubordination and the award of $25bn contracts against the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu.
The minister of state had petitioned Buhari, alleging acts of insubordination and humiliation by Baru.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) and member of the ad hoc committee, Senator Kabiru Marafa, in his response to an enquiry on whether the panel had been lobbied to favour Baru, said, “It’s not true!”
Another member, who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Financial Crimes and Anti-Corruption, Senator Chukwuka Utazi, said, he was outside the country as of the time the lawmakers were reported to have been put under pressure.
“Keep your gun powder dry till when I am back in Abuja,” he said.
Alasoadura, another member of the panel also denied being under pressure.
“I have already read things like that,” he said in a WhatsApp message to our correspondent.
Senator Samuel Anyanwu, who is a member of the panel was approached by our correspondent on Wednesday but he refused to speak on the matter.
“I cannot speak on it, talk to the chairman (Wamakko),” he said.
Chairman of the panel, Senator Aliyu Wamakko, however declined comments on his reported meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday night.
Wamakko could not be reached on the telephone and he did not reply a text message seeking comments from him as of the time of filing this report, on Saturday.
A source in the senate however told our correspondent that the ad hoc committee was frustrated by the Russia trip. According to the source, members of the panel who are not on the trip could not go ahead with the task, when the Chairman of the Senate Committees on Petroleum Resources, Alasoadura (Upstream), Marafa (Downstream) and Akpan (Gas) were not available.
The source said, “The membership of the ad hoc committee was strategic, considering the strict posture of the chairman and appointment of chairmen of Senate standing committees on Petroleum. Marafa, Alasoadura and Akpan are critical to the probe because they know NNPC better.
“You will observe that the committees investigating the issues between Senator Isa Misau and the Inspector General of Police (Ibrahim Idris) have not been able to take off as several members, including Misau himself, were out of the country.”