The Reps want the sums collected as penalties released to host communities of the Niger Delta to cushion the effects of environmental degradation caused by gas flare.
The House of Representatives has asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to release the sum of N27.6bn collected as gas flare to host communities.
The lawmakers made the demand during plenary on Thursday.
The House said the demand was based on a directive by former president, Muhammadu Buhari, that the money be released to affected host communities in oil-producing areas of the Niger Delta.
The N27.6bn is part of funds domiciled with the CBN as gas flare penalties.
The House also asked the federal government to hasten the approval for the release of the remaining funds to affected communities.
This resolution followed the adoption of a motion tilted, “Need for the Central Bank of Nigeria to Release the Approved N27.6 Billion as part of Funds Generated from Gas Flaring Penalties to Host Communities in Compliance with the Petroleum Industry Act.”
According to the sponsor of the bill, Awaji-Inombek Abiante (PDP, Rivers), Section 104, sub-section (4) of the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021, and other statutory international laws demand that money collected as gas flare penalties should be paid to host communities for environmental remediation.
In his lead debate, the lawmaker pointed out that there has been a “total disregard to the statutory provisions,” as CBN, Ministry of Finance and other relevant government parastatals have failed to comply.
“The adverse effect of gas flaring on oil-producing areas has continued to hamper the agricultural livelihood of host communities which fuels vandalism and agitation.
“The non-release of the money to host communities not only negates statutory provisions as well as government directives but is also a major factor leading to continuous adverse effects of environmental degradation and the consequent sufferings and agitations.
“While the money collated as gas flaring penalties may amount to over N100 billion, it is equally legitimate and imperative to release part of the total funds already approved by the government to the right people to fulfil the provisions of the law to reverse the adverse impact of gas flaring as well as guarantee development in the area,” he said.
In adopting the motion, the House asked its Committee on Host Communities to ensure compliance and monitor the release of the initial approved N27.6 billion to legitimate representatives of host communities in compliance with the law.
The committee is to report to back to House within four weeks