Reps say Nigeria not broke, to probe $17b undeclared crude cargoes

Nigeria as a country cannot be said to be broke given the huge amount of recoverable funds stolen and trapped in the hands of companies and individuals within and outside the country, the House of Representatives said on Thursday.

To this end, the House has resolved to set up an ad-hoc committee that would investigate alleged fraud of over $17bilion arising from undeclared crude oil and liquefied natural gas export to global destinations.

The resolution followed a motion under matters of urgent national importance moved by Hon. Jonhson Agbonayinma (PDP, Edo) wherein he called attention of the House to the need for it to probe the status of a report of an investigation commissioned by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2013.

Leading debate on the motion, Agbonayinma said that the past administration in 2013 held a meeting with all the major oil companies to proffer solution to the embarrassing challenge of crude oil theft, adding that the former President, his Vice, governors of Akwa Ibom, Delta, Bayelsa, Ministers and Service Chiefs were all in attendance.

“Following the resolve of the meeting at the behest of the President, Molecular Power System Limited was engaged to provide technical data (records of crude oil and liquefied natural gas lifting in Nigeria as obtained from NNPC and landing certificates at global destinations) to verify possibilities of non declaration to the federal government by multinational companies.

“The data gathering of shipment to the United States for the peiod of 2011 to December 2014 through critical NNPC data and the central bank pre-shipment inspection report shows an undelcared crude oil shortfalls of 57,830,000 metric tones on Nigerian crude oil, translating to well over $12billion export to the US, also over $3billion to China and $839,522,600 to Norway.

“These were conclusively ascertained by buyers, bill of laden, arrival dates, destination ports, quantity of crude oil and other documented information. This job has been done in 51 countries where Nigerian crude oil has been exported to with the report of the United States being the largest receiver of crude oil and that of other countries made available to the former President, the office of the Attorney General and the EFCC. As at today, the country has to its credit over $17billion of recoverable shortfalls from undeclared crude oil exports to global destinations”, he said.

Apparently appalled by the development, the lawmaker stressed that the money that belongs to Nigeria is in the hands of a few individuals, adding that “people who connived with foreign companies to defraud you and I of a colossal amount of money that would have positively affected the economy and lives of ordinary Nigerians”, he said.

‎Agbonayinma further disclosed that the federal government had initiated a physiclaization policy of loading crude oil from Nigeria under the joint supervision of the Department of Petroleum Resources, the Navy, the Customs, Nigerian Port Authority and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency , NIMASA, expressing dismay how and why the policy was crippled over the years till date.

He also revealed that the agencies have also lost the capacity to go to offshore locations to witness loading as the machines that monitor loading into vessels were bought, owned, calibrated and operated by the international oil companies without monitoring.

‎Also, information according to the lawmaker revealed that a total of 727,460 Metric Ton of liquefied natural gas estimated at about $461, 44million was firmly established as a shortfall from shipment to 7 countries, adding that these revenue loss was traced to cargoes at each destination port of entry, and have been established as undeclared cargoes.

“Today, people can no longer pay their children’s school fees, they can no longer feed and cater for their family, because the money belonging to all has been cornered by a few cabal. Let President Muhammadu Buhari take his fight against corruption to the core of the oil sector. We are here to support him and we must all do our best to support as representatives of the masses. We are not supposed to be broke. Recession is not supposed to affect us if only we can take back what has been taken from us”, the lawmaker added.

Speaker Yakubu Dogara before throwing the motion to a general debate made an intervention saying that “I remember the crux of your motion when you discussed it with me and you said that the past government hired a consultant and paid $5m. It has since turned in its report and it’s a basic idea of spending $5m to investigate a crime with a report that has indicted many people and organizations and up till now, no recovery has been made”.

Hon. Oghene Egoh (PDP, Lagos) in his contribution said: “How can we have so much stolen wealth, knowing those responsible for the theft and be struggling to finance our budget? The rate of the dollar is going up every day and parents can no longer send their children to schools.

“We need this money to develop our country. And an issue that concerns the commonwealth of this country must be taken seriously and I call on the executive to take up this issue and recover these funds”, Egoh urged.

Abdulkabir Akinlade (APC, Ogun) said; “It’s not that the government does not know those holding these monies. But in a democracy the government is constrained to act within the rule of law in trying to recover these stolen wealth. The process of recovery is long and tedious which is why the executive is placing wealth recovery at the centre of its economic policy. But the challenge is not that we don’t know these people, but our criminal justice system has made it difficult to speed up processes leading to recovery of looted funds”.

The motion was unanimously approved via a voice vote after it was put to question by Speaker Yakubu Dogara.

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