The House of Representatives, on Thursday, grilled Abubakar Malami, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, over the alleged illegal sale of 48 million barrels of crude oil in China valued at over $2.4bn.
The Attorney General, in company with the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice/Solicitor-General of the Federation, Beatrice Jedy-Agba, is appearing before the House’ Ad Hoc Committee to Investigate Alleged Loss of Over $2.4 Billion in Revenue from Illegal Sale of 48 Million Barrels of Crude Oil Export in 2015 Including All Crude Oil Exports and Sales by Nigeria from 2014 Till Date.
While the ministry made a written presentation to the committee, Malami restated his earlier position about the allegation and the probe. He asked the lawmakers to avail him of documents and facts at their disposal to assist him in aiding the investigation.
The minister, when he first appeared before the committee on April 27, 2023, had told the lawmakers that the allegation that 48 million barrels of crude oil valued at over $2.4bn was illegally sold to China is false.
“Mr Chairman, let me state on record and for the benefit of Nigerians and the committee, that the allegations relating to the 48 million barrels are baseless. The allegation is unfounded. It is lacking in merit, and indeed lacking in substance. It is in its own right – the allegation – devoid of any reasonable ground pointing to a material suspicion that is cogent enough to invoke the constitutional oversight of the committee,” Malami said.
“Why do I say so? Sometimes in 2016, allegations were rife and hyped on social media. There were allegations of the existence of stolen 48 million barrels of Nigerian crude oil in China, said to have been valued at $2.4bn. President Muhammadu Buhari informally requested the Attorney-General – making reference to my humble person; (the then Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation) Mele Kyari; former Director-General, Department of State Services, Lawal Daura; and the late Abba Kyari (the then Chief of Staff to the President) to look into it and advise.
“But unfortunately, Mr Chairman, for there to be a reasonable ground for suspicion, at least you require certain basic facts. If you are talking about a product, you cannot establish the substance relating thereto without confirming the origin of the purported product in China. If you talk of a product in China, is it of Nigerian origin? That can be established by way of samples and specifications. Is it Bonny Light which you know apparently emanates from Nigeria? The basic detail of the existence of the product and connecting it to Nigeria was not there at all.”