An ad hoc committee of the House of Representatives has given several International Oil Companies and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, two weeks to produce documents in respect of the ongoing investigation into the $17bn worth of Nigeria’s crude oil said to have been stolen from undeclared exports between 2011 and 2014.
The PUNCH on Sunday learnt that many Federal Government agencies were also affected by the ultimatum.
Findings showed that over 16 IOCs had yet to respond to the committee’s enquiries many weeks after the probe opened on December 7, 2016.
The committee, which is chaired by a member of the All Progressives Congress from Adamawa State, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, named Shell (US) Trading Company; Mobil Producing Nigeria; Chevron Nigeria Limited; ESSO Exploration and Production Nigeria; EXXONMOBIL; Brass Oil Services Company Nigeria Limited; and Consolidated Oil Limited as some of the IOCs keeping the committee waiting.
The list also includes Star Deep Water Petroleum Limited; Supreme Jute and Kntex Limited; and Duke Oil Company Limited.
Investigations also indicated that out of the more than 12 Federal Government agencies that the committee asked to respond to enquiries, only six had responded as of Sunday.
Key agencies, which the committee considers as “vital” to the investigation, had yet to respond as of Sunday.
Among them are the DPR and the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited which requested “extension of time.”
Others are the Nigerian Ports Authority; Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency; National Petroleum Investment Management Services; the Nigerian Navy; and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Namdas confirmed to The PUNCH on Sunday that there were “attempts to frustrate” the work of the committee, stating that lawmakers would remain focussed.
He added, “We have written them and the point has been made that it will be two weeks’ ultimatum.
“There won’t be any more extension of time for them to produce the documents because Nigerians are interested in the outcome of this investigation.
“After two weeks, the committee will resort to using the National Assembly full powers of investigation enshrined in sections 88/89 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).”
The development confirmed an exclusive story by The PUNCH on January 6 that the failure of the IOCs and key government agencies to respond to the committee’s enquiries had delayed the take-off of the public hearing on the alleged crude and gas theft.
The committee alleged that the MDAs reportedly played a “colluding role in the whole crude theft saga because it was primarily their responsibility to ensure that the country’s interest was protected.”
As of January 1, most of the agencies produced what committee sources described as “sketchy information”, forcing the panel to write them afresh, giving a two-week ultimatum to affected IOCs and agencies to submit detailed documents.
The House resolution in December had ordered the probe after lawmakers established evidence of “fraudulent transactions and irregularities” in crude and gas exports within the period under review.
For example, the committee is reviewing a 2013 report, produced by Molecular Power System (Nigeria) Limited, a firm engaged by former President Goodluck Jonathan to look into records of crude oil and liquefied natural gas lifting in Nigeria.
Part of the information at the disposal of the committee put the figure of undeclared crude shortfalls between 2011 and 2014 at 57,830,000 barrels.
“This translates to well over $12bn worth of crude shipped to the United States. Also, over $3bn worth was shipped to China and $839,522,600 worth of crude was taken to Norway.
“These figures were conclusively ascertained by buyers, bill of lading, arrival dates, destination ports, quantity of crude oil and other documented information,” the document stated.
The US was listed as the leading destination for the crude out of the 51 countries that received crude exports from Nigeria within the period.
“The report was made available to the former President, Office of the AGF, NIMASA, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and that as of today (2016), the country has to its credit over $17bn of recoverable shortfalls from undeclared crude oil exports to global destinations,” it added.
In the case of LNG shortfalls, the document noted a loss of “727,460 metric tonnes, estimated at about $461m, was firmly established shortfall from shipment to seven countries.”
It added, “These have been established as undeclared cargoes.”
The PUNCH learnt that the House was keen on carrying out the investigation because the money involved was enough to finance the 2017 budget, put at N7.29tn.