By Dipo Olowookere
Worried by the allegation that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) failed to remit about $5.4 billion made from the sale of crude oil for Nigeria from 2013 to date, the Senate has ordered a probe into the matter.
At the plenary on Tuesday, the upper legislative chamber of the National Assembly frowned at the alleged act and vowed to “get to the bottom of this serious matter in an attempt to put an end to this.”
A member of the Senate, Mr Dino Melaye, had called the attention of his colleagues to this via motion titled ‘unlawful and wilful misappropriation and criminal withholding of public revenue by the NNPC and NPDC from 2013 to date.’
Mr Melaye alleged that since 2013, the NPDC has continued to lift crude oil from divested oil wells OML 61, 62, 63 worth over $3.487 billion without remittance of any nature to the Federation Account as stipulated.
He further said the NPDC has also been lifting from divested oil wells OML 65, 111 and 119 to the tune of $1.847 billion, but allegedly paid a mere $100 million.
However, the lawmaker from Kogi State emphasised that though this practice did not start in the present administration, but that it had continued without being challenged.
He told his colleagues that between January and August, a total of $344.442 million worth of oil had been lifted by NPDC without remittance to the Federation Account and also not paying royalties and other taxes on these liftings.
Mr Melaye lamented that the total money allegedly withheld illegally by these two agencies could fetch Nigeria about 11 world class teaching hospitals fully equipped to cutting edge machinery of about 200 beds, as well as six health centres in each of the 774 Local Government Areas of the country and add on to the national power grid 4,000 megawatts of electricity.
After deliberations on the matter, the Senate said, “We cannot continue a practise where some people will continue to sabotage the anti-corruption effort.”
It then directed its Committees on Petroleum Upstream and Finance to investigate the allegation and also called the GMD, Auditor General, Minister of Finance and CBN Governor and anti-corruption agencies to look into the claim.
The Senate also commended Mr Melaye for bringing the matter to the upper chamber as part of its legislative agenda.
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