The Senate, on Tuesday, December 13, accused the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, and its exploration and production subsidiary, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, of willful misappropriation, and for criminally withholding public revenue to the tune of $3.487 billion.

Recall, that President Muhammadu Buhari, is currently the Minister of Petroleum Resources.

The Senate also, accused the NPDC, of lifting crude from divested oil wells; Oil Mining Leases, OML, 65, 111, and 119, to the tune of $1.847 billion, of which it paid a paltry $100 million to the Federation Account.

The Senate, equally said that the non-remittance of proceeds from the sale of crude oil, started before the advent of the Buhari administration, and had continued under the current administration unabated.

It said the acts were perpetrated with impunity, to the extent that between January and August this year alone, the NPDC allegedly lifted crude, amounting to $344.442 million, without following due process.

Moving a motion through a point of order on Tuesday, Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West), who said it was worrisome that the two agencies had been lifting crude oil, without recourse to transparency, added that the NPDC had since 2013, been lifting crude from divested oil wells OML 61, 62, and 63, to the tune of $3.487 billion, without remitting it to the Federation Account.

The Senate therefore, mandated the NNPC, and the NPDC, to immediately remit monies obtained on behalf of the Federal Government, to the Federation Account, and also tasked the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Baru Maikanti, to ensure compliance with this directive with immediate effect.

It also tasked the NNPC, “to as a matter of urgency, forward to the National Assembly, its yearly estimate for repairs, and pipeline operations, and maintenance for appropriation”.

Concerned about the continuing practice of withholding part of crude oil sale proceeds by the NNPC, for use in pipeline repairs and product losses, Melaye said: “It is curious that despite the much trumpeted anti-corruption stance of the current administration, that this level of corruption could still be nestled and tucked in by highly placed individuals, and is derisive of the entire anti-corruption fight.

“The Senate observes that the said amount so far withheld illegally, can build about 11 world-class teaching hospitals, fully equipped to cutting edge machinery of about 200 beds in Nigeria, six health care centres in each of the 774 Local Government Areas of the country, and added on the national power grid 4,000MW of electricity.

“The Senate further observes that this amount, if remitted into the Federation Account, would have had an immediate and significant impact on the economy, by bringing down the cost of the naira instantly, and boosting the federation reserves appreciably.”

Melaye, insisted that the amount allegedly being withheld from the Federation Account, could address “the needs of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, in the North-East 9.9 times over”.

Supporting the motion, Senator Adeola Olamilekan, (Lagos West), lamented the degree of misappropriation of revenues by the agencies, adding that, the allegation was factual.

Olamilekan further said, depriving the nation of the whopping sum of almost $4 billion, by the two agencies at the time government was seeking to borrow $30 billion, must not go unpunished.

The matter was referred to the Joint Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream, Downstream) and Finance, for investigation. The Committee is expected to report its findings to the Senate on January 9, 2017.

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