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Alleged theft of $2.4bn oil revenue: Malami to honour Reps’ invitation

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$2.4bn illegal oil sale: Reps grill Malami, demand answers

Abubakar Malami, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, says he will honour the invitation of the House of Representatives to give answers to their enquiries on the whereabouts of the 48 million barrels of crude oil amounting to over $2.4 billion and crude oil export to global destinations from 2014 to date.

The ad-hoc committee investigating the sales and the whistleblower recoveries recently threatened to arrest Malami and the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed for ignoring several of their invitations.

At the resumed session of the committee, yesterday, chairman of the committee, Mark Gbillah said that Malami expressed his readiness to honour the invitation through a letter.

Acknowledging the receipt of the letter, Gbillah, who regretted that Malami did not respond to the questions raised in the letter also enjoined the Minister of Finance to appear before the panel.

“Today, we are in receipt of a letter from the Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice, who is averring his determination to respect the doctrine of separation of powers and to support our extant laws. And he has indicated the fact that they are trying to put together the comprehensive response that we have raised,” he said.

“While we appreciate the Attorney General’s response, we would like to indicate that it came a lot later than we expected and it came without the response that we referred to.

“So, we will appreciate if the Attorney General and Minister provides these response and to also appear before the Committee next Thursday. So, let’s give him the window to appear before the committee.

“Unfortunately, the Minister of Finance has still been evasive. The committee has not received any submission or response from the Minister of Finance.

“The Accountant General sent a response and has not responded to our follow up because we asked further questions to what he provided us information about.

“And there are other entities we have scheduled and I believe the NNPCL should be appearing before us also next week.

“But we want to call on the Minister of Finance, like the Attorney General show regards and respect for the separation of powers as enshrined in our constitution, and respond promptly to the request of the committee, so that we can get to the bottom of our investigation.

“Like I already said,we are giving her the benefit of the doubt, we are not unmindful of the other powers we have and we are not afraid to exert them and we will do so, if the leeway we have provided is still neglected and not recognised by the Minister of Finance.”

The committee while quizzing other companies that appeared also uncovered unsigned and unstamped documents submitted by Equinor Nigeria Energy Company.

Other companies quizzed include Millennium oil and Gas Company, SAPETRO, PANAMA, Moni Pulo.

Probing into the activities of Equinor with regard to the OML 129, the committee noticed the company breached the extant laws that cost the country some revenue.

Gbillah also observed that the company does not have the capacity to operate the Deep Offshore asset.

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“Why I’m saying this is because you had a period of exploration that elapsed and you did not bring anything to production. You have the OML phase till date, you told us here on oath that you’re still doing exploring. For all intend and purposes, I wouldn’t renew the license to you, if I were the commission. I wouldn’t do that because you have not been able to meet those terms after 30 years.”

Responding, the Equinor’s Chief Financial Officer, Mr. Charles Nwoko, said: “The 30 years is expiring this year. So, like I said earlier, the OPL phase was when you prospect. The OML phase which I said is where we are now, which expires this year and we have approached NNPC with a view to having that OML extended or renewed, that’s where we are now.”

The committee also resolved to request for information bothering on Equinor’s annual obligation and compliance with the statutory requirements, Vanguard reported.

Gbillah who gave the ruling requested that the proof of Pre-shipment certificates, Q88 form, names and statement of accounts where proceeds of crude oil sold were deposited, stock certificate, copies of procurement details, details of cargoes, date of crude lifting, quantity, destination, and type of crude lifted, among others be submitted next week Wednesday.

 

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