The house of representatives committee investigating the missing 48 million barrels of Bonny Light crude has summoned Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), over an alleged undocumented transaction.
The house wants Emefiele to provide details on the N32.5 billion paid to two companies — Messrs GSCL Consulting and Bizplus — without formal records.
The lower chamber is also investigating an alleged payment of $200 million to the firms for “consultancy service”.
The committee, in addition, invited the former managing director of the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), the auditor-general of the federation, the accountant-general of the federation, the minister of foreign affairs, managing directors of Exxon Mobil, Nigeria Agip Oil company, and others.
Speaking at the investigative hearing on Monday, Mark Gbillah, chairman of the ad hoc committee, said available records showed that the CBN paid N16.5 billion to each of two the companies on the same day.
Gbillah added that the amount was withdrawn by the companies within two months.
The lawmaker said it was important for Nigerians to know why the apex bank paid the said amount to the companies, especially when Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, denied knowledge of the payments.
Gbillah also expressed displeasure over the failure of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) to provide answers to the questions the committee had sent to the energy firm over a lack of clarity.
‘$1.7 BILLION JUDGEMENT SUM YET TO BE RECOVERED SINCE 2020’
On the $1.7 billion judgement sum yet to be recovered by the government, Gbillah said there exist about nine other cases with regard to the alleged theft of Nigerian crude.
“This issue is not in our imagination. There is a formal legal judgment on this issue and there are cases still pending with regard to Nigerian crude, ” he said.
“I call on the Bola Tinubu administration, relevant stakeholders, and the anti-graft agencies, to realise that Nigerians are waiting for an explanation regarding why the $1.7 billion has not been recovered from Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept with regard to the judgment against them since 2020.
“This is money that belongs to all Nigerians, and we expect that it should be appropriately accounted for.”
The legislator also said all the companies and agencies summoned by the committee over the matter have a duty to respond to the summons.
He chided one Igo Weli, SPDC’s representative, for the company’s lack of due diligence and for what the lawmakers described as “an attempt to frustrate the work of the committee”.
Seething with disappointment, Gbillah said being a leader in the industry, Shell could not claim ignorance of the issue when others had responded to the same enquiries.
Still, the Shell team, during the proceedings, failed to inform the committee when the oil conglomerate would answer the lawmakers’ questions.
Therefore, Gbillah ruled that the committee would make its recommendation to guide the 10th national assembly in dealing with the issues.
’10 CASES OF CRUDE OIL THEFT STILL IN COURTS OUTSIDE NIGERIA’
Meanwhile, speaking on the $1.7 billion judgement sum, Bashir Jamoh, director-general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), said the money was still outstanding for the federal government to claim from a company that was found guilty of making a false declaration about the crude oil it took from the country.
“In 2013, when the revenue profile was low, NIMASA was directed by the attorney-general’s office to coordinate two technical teams to source data on the actual lifting of crude oil and the last destination point, to see if there were discrepancies,” Jamoh told the committee.
“We discovered some discrepancies and worked with the legal team to look into the findings. From the findings, the legal team again discovered 10 companies liable for under-declaration. We instituted cases against those companies.
“Most of the cases are still in court. We won one of those cases and a directive was given by the court that $1.7 billion be paid to the government.
“NIMASA and the attorney-general’s office continued to monitor the team of lawyers. In January this year, I wrote to them, requesting an update on the cases in court. What we discovered was that some cases were on appeal. For such cases, the legal team is working on that while still following up on the ones still at the lower court.
“These cases are not instituted in Nigeria, but the destination where the criminal acts were committed.
“The straight answer is that these cases are still in court and we have those that have not reached the stage of appeal yet. It is not only NIMASA and the attorney-general’s office that are interested in this matter.
“The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is also interested because I know that they have been going about to investigate and make sure that the companies involved are brought to book.”
From the Cable