There are indications that the Senate may have swept the probe of the senators who were in Ghana for a seminar on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) under the carpet.
The Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions.was to probe the circumstances surrounding the trip by the senators -whether or not they got the permission of the Senate leadership before embarking on the trip – and the allegation that they were compromised to frustrate the passage of the PIB.
Senate had on May 13, this year, given the committee eight weeks to investigate the participation of the members in the seminar facilitated by the Producers Trade Section (OPTS) of Lagos Chamber of Commerce.
Although, the Special Adviser to the President on Petroleum Matters, Dr. Emmanuel Egbogah, who reportedly made the allegation had since denied it, the Senate did not receive a report of the probe from the Committee before it went on recess on July 30, this year.
OPTS had said the Ghana seminar was to sensitise selected members of some Senate committees on the nitty-gritty of the PIB.
Those who were reportedly in Ghana included Moham-åmed Mohammed (Bauchi), Sidi Ali (FCT), Dahiru Awaisu Kuta (Niger), Emmanuel Paulker (Bayelsa) and Mohammed Kabir Jubril (Kaduna).
Others were Joseph Akaagerger (Benue), Nimi Barigha-Amange (Bayelsa), Enyinnaya Abaribe (Abia), Felix Kolawole Bajomo (Ogun), Tawar umbi Wada (Gombe) and Mohammed Ahmed (Kwara).
There have been feelers that the probe Committee has abandoned the exercise following the second reading of the PIB and its referral to the relevant standing committees for further legislative action.
The Upper House had already taken the PIB through a public hearing stage preparatory to clause-by-clause consideration and third reading. The report, barring hitches, is expected to be submitted to Senate plenary next month.
THISDAY learnt that senators who benefited from the Ghana trip had protested, in a closed session, the decision by the Senate to refer the matter to the Ethics Committee, stressing that Egbogah had already denied the allegation.
But the Senate leadership was said to have insisted that since the matter had been referred to the Ethics Committee, it (Committee) should be allowed to complete the assignment and report back to plenary for further legislative action.
Sources said that although it was clear that the allegation was baseless and unfounded and the committee was poised from the outset to give the senators a clean bill, the affected senators, as learnt, were not disposed to appear before the committee.
They were said to have been worried by the implications of their appearance for committing no offence, particularly the stigmatization that usually attends such appearances.
The committee on its part, as further, gathered, decided not to push ahead with the probe, preferring to allow the issue to die a natural death.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Hambagda, could not be reached yesterday to comment on the development.
But there are indications that the committee assignment may feature in an audit of the pending committee assignments and probes that may be undertaken when the Senate resumes from its two-month recess on September 29, barring a change in resumption date.