- House panel: govt agencies scuttling $17b stolen crude, gas exports probe
House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara said yesterday the $40.266 billion and N196.3 billion revenue loss in the Nigeria’s oil and gas industry in the past few years was worrisome.
Dogara spoke at the opening of a four-day investigative hearing by the Abdulrasak Namdas-led ad hoc committee on $17 billion stolen from undeclared crude oil and liquefied natural gas exports to global destinations.
He said the House would leave no stone unturned in its effort to tackle corruption in the oil and gas sector.
The Speaker catalogued the revenue losses as including an audit that over $4.4 billion involving the national oil conglomerate “was trapped somewhere” and Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) audit report, “which revealed that the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation failed to remit $12.9 billion revenue accrued from Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Company since 2009 into the Federation Account”.
He said others were $5.966 billion and N20.4 billion revenue allegedly lost to offshore processing agreement, crude theft and the notorious crude oil swaps, N175.9 billion disparity lost during the subsidy claims in the NEITI report as well as the $17 billion stolen from undeclared crude oil and Liquefied Natural Gas exports to global destinations.
His words: “As you are well aware, today’s public hearing is one in the series of investigative hearings by the House of Representatives on the looting of the nation’s wealth in the oil and gas industry, which runs into billions of dollars. The emphasis and the interest, which the parliament has shown in investigating the sector is not a coincident but a deliberate effort to cleanse the industry of rot that has epitomised its existence over the years.
“The incidence of money missing in the industry has become a recurring decimal to the point that news items in the national dailies are incomplete without reports on one fraudulent activity or the other in the subsector, which incidentally is the mainstay of the economy.
“Hence, the reporting of the media on the ills of the industry clearly attests to the concern of Nigerians on the need to tackle the problem headlong.”
Namdas was not happy that most of the agencies invited failed to attend the hearing.
Those invited that did not appear include: the NNPC, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Navy (NN), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
Others are the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), Accountant General of the Federation, NEITI, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He said: “The government is fighting corruption. It’s very serious business. We have put it as part of our legislative agenda to actually support this government to fight corruption and we expect government agencies to also compliment by doing the needful.
“The government is in Abuja. It’s not in Lagos. The heads of agencies are in Abuja and this is a serious matter… We’re talking about $17 billion, stolen and diverted. And the people who are responsible for this, just to come and give clarification and they’re sending people. We’re not going to take it.”
Namdas said even the few representatives of agencies that attended such as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), National Petroleum Development Corporation, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), had no letters of authority showing they were truly representing their managing directors/ chief executive officers and hence may not be able to answer the question of the committee authoritatively and satisfactorily.
The lawmaker said over 57 million barrels of Nigeria’s crude oil were illegally exported and sold in the USA between January 2011 and December 2014.
“The estimated revenue loss by the government of Nigeria is around $12,722,600,327. At an exchange rate of N196/$1, this translates to over N2trillion; you can imagine what the value is now.
He insisted that all the heads of Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) invited must be present at the continuation of the investigation today.