Four top officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, on Tuesday received their letters directing them to proceed on compulsory retirement over the missing petrol scandal, multiple sources told PREMIUM TIMES.
On Monday, PREMIUM TIMES published an exclusive report that the Managing Director of the NNPC Retail, Esther Nnamdi-Ogbue, and three other top officials were asked to resign their appointment.
The officials, including the General Manager (Operations) of NNPC Retail, Mamza Gwadabe, and Ibrahim Bello, who was said to be responsible for monitoring the truck out of NNPC products at depots in Lagos, got their retirement letters. A fourth official whose identity of could not be ascertained last night also got his.
The four were found culpable in the 100 million litres ‘missing’ petrol scandal involving Capital Oil & Gas Nigeria Limited owned by controversial businessman, Ifeanyi Ubah.
A committee constituted by the NNPC management to investigate the scandal, which also involved MRS Petroleum, had initially recommended the outright dismissal from service of the four officials for their respective roles.
But, following the intervention of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, the dismissal was converted to compulsory retirement with full benefits, our sources said.
Although Mrs. Nnamdi-Ogbue had earlier said she was not aware of the recommendation for her to retire, authoritative sources close to the NNPC confirmed to this newspaper last night that she and other affected officials were served their retirement letters on Tuesday.
Despite collecting her retirement letter, the former NNPC Retail boss was said to have insisted on her innocence at a meeting with staff of the agency on Tuesday, where she announced her exit.
When contacted, Ndu Ughamadu, the NNPC spokesperson said he was not aware of the retirement letter.
“The only thing I am aware of is that the probe panel had submitted its report. But, I am not aware what their recommendations were,” Mr. Ughamadu said.
The missing petrol worth over N14 billion was stored at the private depots under a throughput arrangement as part of NNPC’s effort to maintain a strategic national fuel reserve.
Last January, when the Nigerian Products Marketing Company, NPMC, the NNPC subsidiary in charge of petroleum products marketing and distribution, needed some volume of petrol to bridge the supply gap, Mrs. Nnamdi-Ogbue had offered NNPC Retail’s stock of the commodity at Capital Oil.
But, NNPC Chief Operating Officer, Downstream, Henry Ikem-Obi, said when trucks were sent to load the petrol at Capital Oil, it was discovered that the entire stock were sold off without the knowledge of NNPC Retail and the parent company.
Following the shocking discovery, Mrs. Nnamdi-Ogbue reported the matter to the NNPC management and anti-graft agencies, asking them to intervene and help recover the missing petrol or the funds from Capital Oil.