In what could be described as the mother of all investigations in the 8th Senate, the upper legislative chamber has uncovered N10trillion fraud in the petroleum industry.
To this end, a three-day investigative hearing which will probe the administrations of Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari will commence soon. The hearing will scrutinise how NNPC performed its commercial downstream pertroluem product purchase, supply distribution and payment functions from 2006 till date.
Specifically, the Senate accused the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) of siphoning N5.2trillion on subsidy importation of petroleum products, even as it said it would probe N3.8trillion collected by independent product marketers and $1.5billiion being owed independent marketers by government.
The Senate Joint Committees on Petroleum Upstream, Petroleum Downstream and Gas made the disclosure at a joint press briefing on Friday in Abuja.
“We have already established the missing of 100million litres of PMS amounting to about N14.5billion. This was done by two companies”, Kabiru Marafa, Chairman Senate Committee on Petroleum Downstream told journalists in Abuja.
He said besides NNPC, other stakeholders that would be invited at the investigative hearing include inspection companies, shipping companies and ships brokers, ship tracking agencies, terminal and tank operators, independent product blenders, product trading brokers, established and globally recognised large volume product trading companies, indigenous oil and gas companies among others.
He said the committee will also invite former and present chief executive officers of the Corporation, Head of Operations Planning as well as Desk Management Officers responsible for the purchasing, financing, transportation quality and certification of products sold to Nigeria.
“We expect full cooperation by all stakeholders and all past and present industry players over the period in question. In the absence of cooperation or where our investigatiions show infractions, abuse of contract, abuse of position, or collusion that serves to cheat Nigeria, then we will recommend the harshest of penalties which will include but not limited to blacklisting of companies and or individuals from ever doing business with Nigeria and or NNPC,” the lawmakers added.
According to him, apart from the 445,000 barrel of crude oil domestic consumption, NNPC has collected over N5.2trillion as subsidy from 2006 to 2016.
He doused fears that the hearing was targeted at any administration, adding that the investigation enjoys the support of President Muhammadu Buhari and Senate President Bukola Saraki.
On his part, chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum Upstream
Tayo Alasoadura noted that: “People will come and account for the reason why we were importing fuel into this country that was more than 40 percent of our needs. As soon as fuel was half-deregulated, our consumption in this country came down by about 40 percent. Who were the people benefiting from this?
“We have a blank cheque to probe into all these matters and we are going to do it and ensure that people who have taken this country for a ride, are brought to book”