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Wednesday, 13 November 2013
Nigeria's Reps probe NNPC’s alleged $6.8bn fraud
By LEVINUS NWABUGHIOGU & EMMAN OVUAKPORIE
ABUJA— THE House of Representatives, yesterday, started an all-inclusive investigation into alleged fraudulent activities of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, with Vitol and Transfigura Commodity Trading Firms.
This was sequel to a motion entitled Urgent Need to Investigate the Alleged Connivance of the Nigerian National Corporation, NNPC, with Swiss Oil Dealers to Rob Nigeria Billion of Dollars, moved by Abiodun Balogun (APC, Ogun State).
Balogun, in his prayers, said that the long-standing allegation of secrecy surrounding the operations of NNPC and the oil industry was recently blown open by a new report of The Berne Declaration, a Swiss non-government advocacy organisation that gave account of a series of illegal practices involving NNPC, which also allegedly connived with major Swiss oil trading companies to drain Nigeria of billions of dollars through the sale of crude oil below the market value.
*House of Representatives members in session
According to him, the report, entitled Swiss Traders Opaque Deals in Nigeria, further stated that NNPC has so far duped the country of 6.8 billion dollars through some “Letter Box Companies.”
He noted that “exclusive and nontransparent” partnerships of Vitol and Transfigura with NNPC gave them over 36 percent of the market share with NNPC selling its crude oil at various discounts.
The lawmaker stressed that it was worrisome to learn that Nigeria is the only major oil producing nation that sells 100 per cent of its crude to private traders rather than in the open market, which would enable it benefit from the resulting added value with the greatest number of beneficiaries of export allocations.
Also worrisome to Balogun was the fact NNPC and its subsidiaries have not published their financial details since 2005.
In a unanimous decision thereafter, the House sustained the motion when subjected to vote by the Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha, who presided over the plenary.
It subsequently directed its standing committees on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), Petroleum Resources (Downstream) and Justice to probe all issues raised and report back within four weeks.
Meanwhile, attempts made earlier by the Minority Leader Femi Gbajabiamila (APC, Lagos) to include Committee on Public Accounts in the probe and another which came in the form of amendment motion by Abubakar Momoh (APC Edo) to delete the inclusion of the Justice Committee and replace it with that of Finance Committee, were killed by the lawmakers led by Deputy House Leader, Leo Ogor (Delta PDP).
Ogor said it was irrelevant to include the two committees when the House had appropriate committees for such investigations.