The Senate on Tuesday mandated its committees on Petroleum Upstream, Down Stream and Finance to investigate the allegation of unlawful and willful withholding of $5.334 billion by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC).
The upper chamber of the National Assembly also asked the NNPC and NPDC to immediately remit the monies obtained on behalf of the Federal Government to the Federation Account upon lifting and urged the Group Managing Director of NNPC to ensure compliance to the directive.
The lawmakers also direct the NNPC to as a matter of urgency forward to the National Assembly its yearly estimate for maintenance of pipelines.
The development follows a motion sponsored by Senator Dino Melaye represent Kogi West. Melaye expressed concerned that since 2013 to date, NPDC continued to lift crude oil from divested oil wells OML 61, 62 and 63 worth over $3.487 billion without remittance of any nature to the Federation Account.
He added that the same NPDC has also been lifting oil from divested oil wells OML 65, 111 and 119 to the tune of $1.847 billion out of which only $100 million is remitted. “While this practice may have started before the present administration, it has continued under the watch of the new administration without abating. So much so that in this year alone between January and August, a total of $344.442 million worth of oil has been lifted by NPDC without remittance to the Federation Account and also not paying royalties and other taxes on these lifting” Melaye said.
The Senator further stated that the NNPC has continued withholding part of domestic crude oil sales proceeds for use in pipeline repairs and product losses. “Despite the much trumpeted anti-corruption stance of the current administration, this level of corruption could still be nestled and tucked in by highly placed individuals is derisive of the entire anti-corruption fight” Melaye added.
He said the total amount NNPC and NPDC have illegally and criminally withheld from government is in excess of the JVC cash call value for the year 2016.
Seconding the motion, Senate Leader Ali Ndume described the allegation as a serious matter and urged the legislators to take it with all seriousness. He added that the motion is very specific.
In his contribution, Senator Jubrin Barau commended Senator Dino Melaye for bringing the motion. He said the development is not acceptable. “A situation where certain individual would just take government money and do what they like with it is not acceptable” Barau said.
In his reaction Senate President Bukola Saraki commended Senator Dino Melaye for bringing the motion. He said the 8th Senate in its legislative agenda pledge to put an end to this kind of corruption in the country. The Senate President directed the committees to bring the report of their investigation to the chamber on 9th of January 2017.