By Modupe Gbadeyanka
An alleged fraud of about N10 trillion in the oil and gas sector has been unearthed by the Joint Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream, Upstream) and Gas.
According to the committee, the alleged fraud was perpetrated by officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in connivance with some independent marketers and other key players in the petroleum industry between 2006 and 2016.
To get to the root of this mess, the committee said it would carry out a holistic investigation of the fraud with a view to bringing perpetrators to book, having secured the strong support of President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the Senate.
Addressing newsmen at the weekend in Abuja, the committee said available records before it showed that during the period under investigation, NNPC imported fuel that was more than 40 percent of the local consumption besides the perceived gross underutilisation of 445,000 barrels it allegedly received for local refining and local consumption on yearly basis.
At the briefing, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Mr Kabiru Marafa, noted that N5.2 trillion of the entire sum was traceable to NNPC which he said was collected by the corporation as subsidy from the Federal Government for the importation of petroleum products, notably between 2006 and 2016.
He said the amount excluded monies realisable from the 445,000 barrels of crude oil allocated to it annually for production in the nation’s refineries for local consumption.
According to him, NNPC, being the custodian of crude oil resources of the nation, responsible for 51 percent of petroleum products’ importation into the country over the years, aside the 445,000 crude allocation it gives itself on a yearly basis for sales for local refining, must account for the N5.2trillion.
“Available records show that it has spent on subsidy on its own, 51 percent of petroleum products importation between 2006 and 2016 aside the N3.8 trillion spent on similar subsidy for independent marketers and about $1.5 billion yet to be accounted for by other key players in the industry,” Mr Marafa said.
The lawmaker stated further that the committee had discovered how oil marketers fraudulently evacuated petroleum products from storage leased by NNPC without any sense of accountability, pointing out that at least 100 million litres of petrol worth N14 billion had been stolen by two different oil companies without any sanction imposed on them by the NNPC.
He, therefore, ordered the NNPC to sanction the affected companies this week or face huge embarrassment following the expose.
“This committee has established the missing of 100 million litres of PMS from such storage arrangement.
“We expected NNPC to have taken action against the two companies that carried out the theft but since it has not, we hereby order it to do so immediately, precisely within this week, failure of which we shall make the whole details known to the public,” he threatened.
Mr Marafa also threatened that all the key players in the sector along with their collaborators who had taken the country for a ride during the period under review must be brought to book, explaining that the fraud was largely perpetrated during the administrations of former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan and partly during the current administration of Buhari.
“President Buhari is highly supportive of this move by the Senate and we shall not fail in carrying out the needed holistic investigation on obvious sharp practices in the sector. Needed documents for the onerous task are already in our possession,” he said.
Against this background, he said a three-day public hearing would soon be conducted by the committee as he listed those expected at the hearing to include: present and past executives of NNPC, independent marketers, heads of Licenced Inspection Agency, Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigeria Customs Service, and NIMASA, among others.
The lawmaker said that the whistle blower approach being adopted by the executive to unravel fraudulent practices of corrupt public officials would also be used to fish out those involved in the oil sector’s massive fraud.
He said the committee would ensure that strict sanctions were imposed on players in the sector who might attempt to frustrate the investigation by failing to co-operate with the committee during its investigation.
Additional information from ThisDay.
Investors Gain N1.09bn as NASD Share Price Rises 9.1%
By Adedapo Adesanya
The unlisted securities market closed the last trading session of the week on a positive note after it appreciated by 0.18 per cent on the back of growth in the share price of NASD Plc.
Business Post reports that the NASD Over-the-Counter (OTC) Securities Exchange returned to the bulls’ territory on Friday after it closed flat on Thursday.
NASD Plc was the major driver of the return of the bourse to the green region as its value went up during the session by N2.45 or 9.1 per cent to close at N26.99 per unit in contrast to N24.54 per unit it closed at the previous session.
As a result of this, the NASD unlisted security index (NSI) moved up by 1.32 points to 745.44 points from 744.12 points, while the market capitalisation gained N1.09 billion to wrap the day at N615.86 billion in contrast to the previous day’s N614.77 billion.
On the activity chart, there was an improvement as the trading volume surged by 34,985.6 per cent because of the 2.3 million units of shares exchanged by market participants compared with the 6,688 units transacted at the previous session.
In the same vein, the trading value rose by 17,680.6 per cent to N63.4 million from the previous day’s N356,563.60, while the number of deals witnessed a 100 per cent rise as investors carried out 12 deals compared to the six deals executed at the previous session.
At the close of trades, Food Concepts Plc was the most traded stock by volume (year-to-date) with 11.4 billion units of its shares worth N14.4 billion, Lighthouse Financial Service Plc followed with 1.1 billion units valued at N546.2 million, while Geo Fluids Plc was in third place with 1.0 billion units worth N700.1 million.
Food Concepts Plc was also the most traded stock by value on a year-to-date basis with 11.4 billion units worth N14.4 billion, trailed by Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Group Plc with 456.4 million units valued at N9.2 billion, VFD Group Plc with 10.4 million units valued at N3.5 billion.
Naira Trades N414.73/$1 as Cryptos Bleed Heavily
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Naira appreciated against the US Dollar at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window of the foreign exchange (forex) market by 0.02 per cent or 7 kobo on Friday, December 4.
Data showed that the local currency was sold for N414.73/$1 at the investors’ window yesterday compared with the N414.80/$1 it traded on Thursday.
At the final trading session of the week, the turnover was $103.01 million as against $139.67 million achieved at the preceding session, indicating a $36.66 million or 26.62 per cent decline.
Also, the exchange rate of the Naira to the United States currency recorded a movement on Friday, though downward as the Nigerian currency depreciated by 4 kobo as it closed at N411.74/$1 versus the preceding day’s N411.70/$1.
The local currency, however, appreciated by N2.17 against the British Pound Sterling to settle at N546.26/£1 compared to N548.43/£1 it traded at the previous trading session and 57 kobo against the Euro to trade at N465.68/€1 compared to the preceding day’s N466.25/€1.
At the cryptocurrency market, investors counted a heavy loss as the new variant of the coronavirus called Omicron and hawkish comments by the US Federal Reserve that it could raise interest rates have raised serious concerns, causing cryptos to bleed heavily.
The heaviest loss was suffered by Dash (DASH), which plunged by 35.3 per cent to sell for N66,595.85. Ripple (XRP) depreciated 30.6 per cent to trade at N381.85, while Litecoin (LTC) sold for N66,595.85 after declining by 24.1 per cent.
Dogecoin (DOGE) went down by 22.7 per cent to sell at N90.29, Cardano (ADA) depreciated by 20.8 per cent to N652.82, Bitcoin (BTC) depleted by 16.9 per cent to quote at N26,800,504.20, Ethereum (ETH) equally saw a 16.9 per cent depreciation to trade at N2,100,100.39, Binance Coin (BNB) recorded a 12.9 per cent depreciation to trade at N218,577.24, Tron (TRX) went down by 12.7 per cent to trade at N48.00, while the US Dollar Tether (USDT) recorded a 0.1 per cent marginal loss to sell for N554.76.
Crude Mixed as Market Remains Unsettled by Omicron Jitters
By Adedapo Adesanya
Crude prices closed mixed on Friday, December 3 after erasing earlier big gains on growing worries that rising coronavirus cases and a new variant could reduce global oil demand.
Brent crude gained 21 cents or 0.3 per cent to trade at $69.88 per barrel while on the other hand, the United States West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude lost 24 cents or 0.36 per cent to sell at $66.26 per barrel.
Both benchmarks declined for a sixth week in a row for the first time since November 2018.
Oil prices had witnessed one of the most troubled weeks as the market reeled from the fear brought about by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus with speculations that it could spark new lockdowns and dent fuel demand.
The World Health Organization (WHO) urged countries to vaccinate their people to fight the virus, saying travel curbs were not the answer.
Even with this, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies (OPEC+) surprised the market on Thursday when it stuck to its plans to add 400,000 barrels per day supply in January.
However, it said it will continue to monitor the market and this could make it change course if demand suffered from measures to contain the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.
The alliance said they could meet again before their next scheduled meeting on January 4.
Analysts noted that with the coronavirus cases rising, the US jobs report for November also didn’t help demand outlook even as the unemployment rate plunged to a 21-month low of 4.2 per cent, suggesting the country’s labour market was rapidly tightening.
US employment growth slowed considerably in November amid job losses at retailers and in local government education.
Meanwhile, in Vienna, diplomats attempting to restore the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers face substantial challenges that need urgent solutions, the top European envoy said Friday. Talks are set to resume next week.
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