Senate set to investigate Ajaokuta Steel over $496m payment

The Senate on Tuesday resolved to probe the affairs of Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited and the National Ore Mining Company in Kogi State from 2008 to date.

The intention was to investigate the circumstances surrounding the reported payment of $496 million to Mr. Pramod Mittal, who serves as the Chairman of Global Infrastructure Holdings Limited, by the Federal Government in September 2022. This payment was purportedly made as a settlement for contractual disputes, and efforts were underway to uncover the details of this transaction.

It also resolved to investigate the circumstances that led to the re-concession of NIOMCO even when the initial concession agreement was validly terminated by the Yar’adua administration with a positive review by the International Chamber of Commerce, London.

The Senate’s resolutions to these effects were a sequel to a motion sponsored by Senator Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan, PDP Kogi Central, and exhaustively debated by many of the Senators.

She said the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited and the National Iron Ore Mining Company located in Kogi State were established sometime in the late 1970s by the Federal Government with the potential to put Nigeria on the path of technological and industrial advancement and establish the country as one of the leading exporters of steel products in the world.

She lamented that decades after their establishment, the Ajaokuta Steel Mill and NIOMCO have been unable to produce steel despite efforts by successive administrations due to a lack of earnest political will and bureaucratic corruption. Nigeria currently spends about $3.3 billion annually on steel imports.

She said, “this has further worsened the inefficiency of the Moribund company with the recently queried 33 billion naira in electricity debt incurred by Presidential Villa.”

The Senate, after debate on the motion, consequently set up a committee to be chaired by Senator Adeniyi Ayodele Adegbonmire, with senators Natasha Akpoti, Kogi Central, Onawo Mohamed, Nasarawa South, Joel Onowakpa, Delta, Onyesoh Allwell Heacho, Rivers East, Abdullahi Yahaya, Kebbi North, Sen Patrick Chukwuba Ndubueze, Imo North, Tokunbo Abiru Lagos East, and Osita Ngwu Enugu West as members.

While the committee is to report back to the Senate in two weeks, they are also to interface with relevant ministries, departments, agencies, and other critical stakeholders in the steel sector, especially those with an interest in Ajaokuta Steel Manufacturing Plant, and all mining companies, NIOMCO, to obtain relevant information and submit a comprehensive report to the Senate regarding the affairs of the two plants from 2018 to date.

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