• Tony Igele

$17bn Undeclared Crude: House C’ttee Walks Out CBN, NPDC, DPR officials

ABUJA —The House of Representatives Adhoc Committee on $17 billion stolen from undeclared crude oil and liquefied natural gas from Nigeria, yesterday, walked out officials of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN; National Petroleum Development Corporation, NPDC, and Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, as they were declared incompetent to speak on behalf of their principals on issue at stake.

House of Representatives

This is even as Econimic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC; Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC; Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI; Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA; National Petroleum Investment Management Services, NAPIMS; Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF; Customs; Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA; and Navy shunned the investigative hearing.

Immediately the hearing started at about 11.30 am, chairman of the adhoc committee, Abdulrazaq Namdas (APC, Adamawa) demanded for letters of attorney from representatives of CBN, NPDC and DPR but unfortunately none of them had such a letter.

Namdas also revealed that in 2014, Nigeria lost over 57million barrels of crude oil valued then at $12 billion.

At this point, the chairman consulted other members of the committee, who collectively agreed that the officials were not competent to speak on the subject matter.

Mover of the motion that led to the creation of the adhoc committee, Ehiozuwa Johnson Agbonayinma (PDP, Edo), said: “This committee gave two weeks notice and it was publicised in both print and electronic media,so there’s no reason for them not to be here today.’’

Namdas, however, in a polite manner, told the various representatives that they were not competent to speak for their bosses on the issue at stake.

“We expect your principals here tomorrow (today) or better still come here with your letter of attorney,” he said.

Speaking earlier, the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, who was represented by the Minority Whip, Yakubu Barde (PDP, Kaduna), noted: “The adhoc committee was not designed to witchhunt anybody but to help cleanse the oil industry of rot as the incidence of corruption has become a recurring decimal.”

Also in his welcome address, chairman of the committee, Namdas, said: “The immediate past government initiated this investigation but it was largely inconclusive.

He said between January and December 2014, Nigeria lost 57million barrels of crude valued then at $12bn, adding that if the amount were to be converted to Naira, it was well over N2trillion.

“Corruption in the oil sector fundamentally distorts public policy,creates misappropriation of resources, vitiates private, public sectors development and ultimately hurts the poor most.

“By implication, if all revenue from crude oil exports lost due to the activities of those engaged in illegal exports and sales of Nigeria crude are recovered from identified buyers of stolen Nigeria crude oil, it ‘ll go a long way to support developmental goals of the government, including provision of potable water, infrastructure, good education, electricity and other good things of life,’’ he said.

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