House of Representatives

Reps Open Public Hearing On Alleged $17bn Stolen Crude Today

By John Ameh

Abuja – The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the Department of Petroleum Resources, International Oil Companies and over 40 other firms are expected to appear on Monday (today) as the House of Representatives opens its public hearing on the alleged theft of $17bn crude oil and gas resources from the country.

The “undeclared” crude and gas resources were said to have been exported out of Nigeria between 2011 and 2014 in circumstances the House said arose from “collusion” between government agencies and crude oil exporters.

An ad hoc committee, chaired by a member of the All Progressives Congress from Adamawa State, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, is investigating the alleged theft.

Findings by The PUNCH showed on Sunday that the committee, in the course of pre-hearing investigations, had summoned the NNPC, DPR and several other government agencies to provide information on the transactions.

The Central Bank of Nigeria and identified IOCs were also summoned by the committee, but their responses were described by the panel as “generally uncooperative.”

“The government agencies and their heads have not been cooperating with the committee,’’ said one committee member, who shared the fallout of the encounters between the committee and the agencies with The PUNCH on Sunday.

“Information the committee called for was either delivered in scanty form or in the majority of cases, no responses at all.

“As a matter of fact, a general trend among the agencies and the IOCs was to send very junior officers to represent them at the pre-hearing meetings.

“Apart from the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (Abubakar Malami), who came personally, many others have yet to reply the committee.

“This attitude must change as the committee goes into full public hearing.”

The PUNCH gathered that in one instance, the committee had queried the NNPC and the CBN to explain the imbalance of $81.2bn in crude oil sales reported between 2011 and 2014.

It was learnt that while the total crude revenue for the period came to $123.9bn, the NNPC and the CBN reported only $42.7bn, leaving a balance of $81.2bn.

“Can the CBN and the NNPC account for the balance of $81.2bn?” one of the queries read.

When contacted on Sunday, Namdas confirmed that the public hearing would start on Monday (today).

He stated, “This government has fighting corruption as a key element of its agenda.

“If the National Assembly is willing to support the government in this regard, we can’t understand why the agencies of the government are dragging their feet.

“One thing is certain: We won’t allow them to frustrate this committee.

“The investigation will go on and we will get to the bottom of this $17bn crude and gas exports. All the affected agencies must testify.

“With that money, Nigeria does no need any foreign loans to finance its budgets.”

The House had, by its resolution in December 2016, ordered the probe after a motion by a member, Mr. Johnson Agbonayinma, alleging evidence of “fraudulent transactions and irregularities” in crude and gas exports within the period under review.

Part of the information at the disposal of the committee put the figure of undeclared crude shortfalls between 2011 and 2014 at 57,830,000 million barrels.

“This translates to well over $12bn worth of crude shipped to the United States alone.

“Also, over $3bn worth was shipped to China and $839,522,600 worth of crude was taken to Norway.

“These figures were conclusively ascertained by buyers, bill of lading, arrival dates, destination ports, quantity of crude oil and other documented information,” the document stated.

The US was listed as the leading destination for the crude, out of the 51 countries that received crude exports from Nigeria within the period.

“The report was made available to the former President (Goodluck Jonathan); Office of the Attorney General of the Federation; Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and that as of today (2016), the country has to its credit over $17bn of recoverable shortfalls from undeclared crude oil exports to global destination,” it added.

In the case of liquefied natural gas shortfalls, the document noted a loss of “727,460 metric tonnes, estimated at about $461,044m, firmly established shortfall from shipment to seven countries.’’ (Punch)

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