With allegations of massive fraud bedeviling the nation, the upper and lower chambers of the National Assembly have been advised to start investigations into the activities of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), focusing mainly on the areas of the crude oil swap scheme and Offshore Processing Agreements (OPA).
Yesterday, the Lagos lawyer and human rights activist, Festus Keyamo made this call in a letter addressed to the Senate president and the speaker of the House of Representatives, in which he alleged the looting of the country's resources by some NNPC officials in collaboration with some local companies.
The scheme called crude oil swaps is an arrangement in which about 50 per cent of the nation’s daily quota of crude oil which is meant for domestic refining and consumption is given to some local companies in the oil and gas sector to sell the products on the international market.
Thereafter, these companies import petroleum products, including derivatives or byproducts on behalf of the NNPC and PPMC and have them sold and distributed in the country.
This programme was put in place because the local refineries were incapable of operating at their fully installed capacities. They did not have the ability to refine all the nation's daily domestic quota of crude oil.
Likewise, the Offshore Processing Agreements (OPAs) refer to the allocation of the daily domestic quota of crude oil to some local companies so that the companies will take the crude oil to refineries outside the country and have them refine the crude into petroleum products, including derivatives or byproducts.
These local companies would also be in charge of importing the finished petroleum products into the country on behalf of the PPMC.
According to Keyamo, there has been “colossal fraud in both programmes” in recent years.
“The fraud occurs when far less quantity of petroleum products, byproducts and derivatives are imported into the country by the local companies in exchange for the crude oil allocated to them by the NNPC,” he alleged.
He went on to say that: “The staggering shortfalls in the imported products are done with the active connivance, collusion and knowledge of the officials of the NNPC. The proceeds are, of course, subsequently shared between the NNPC officials and these local companies.
“In fact, it is reported that a colossal sum of about $50billion have been stolen by these people through these fraudulent programmes in the last few years.”
The activist did not hesitate to give the names of some NNPC officials, who he believes are the brains behind the scam.
He said most of them were already under investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Directorate of State Security (DSS)
“I humbly request that you direct your searchlight on the Managing Director, NPDC, Mr. Tony Moneke; Executive Director, Commercial, PPMC, Mr. Frank Amejo; Group General Manager, Crude Oil Marketing Division, Mr. Gbenga Komolafe and former Managing Director, NPDC, and later NNPC Group Executive Director, E & P, Mr. Abiye Membere.
"I also urge you to invite the following private, local companies in the oil and gas sector in the course of your probe to assist in getting to the bottom of the whole sordid affair: AITEO that is owned by Mr. Benny Peters; Sahara Energy owned by Tonye Cole; Tope Sonubi and Ade Odunsi; Ontario Oil and Gas owned by Walter Wagbatsoma and Taleveras founded by Mr. Igho Sanomi,” he said
Keyamo also called for a proper probe into the role that the immediate past Minister of petroleum resources, Deziani Alison-Madueke may have played in defrauding the nation.
He said:“Though I understand she also wrote a petition in this regard few days before leaving office, but it is not always the case that it is the person that runs first to the police station to report an incident that is the victim."
“I find it extremely curious that she waited till a few days to the end of her tenure before writing that petition. I also find it curious that she wrote a petition in respect of matters over which she had total control and in respect of which she had complete access to all the documents and personnel involved. In fact, the above-mentioned personnel were her subordinates whom she could have queried long ago if she smelt any rat," he added
He made sure to reminded the lawmakers of their investigative responsibility and powers preserved under section 88(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), which is to ‘expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated by it’.
“The danger in not exposing these acts of corruption through open and public hearings is that even the investigators may be tempted to engage in cover-ups and under-hand dealings because of the colossal sums involved in these shady deals,” he noted.
President Buhari has continually said that his government will tackle corruption squarely, and he has continued to say that all corrupt officials will be expunged from his administration.
Many Nigerians have joined in this fight, raising their voices in support of the campaign to rid Nigeria of corrupt officials.