The House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee investigating the Refined Product Exchange Agreement/Crude Oil Swap between the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation/Petroleum Pipelines Marketing Companies (NNPC/PPMC) has summoned the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, to explain her role in the award of contracts worth $24billion without valid agreements signed with the befitting companies.
Three former Group Managing Directors (GMDs) of the NNPC, Mr. Austin Oniwon, Mr. Andrew Yakubu and Mr. Joseph Dawha, who appeared before the committee last week, indicted the former minister, accusing her of extending the oil swap contracts for Duke Oil Company Incorporated and Trafigura B.V, without valid agreements.
The contracts for both firms had expired in October 2011, but they had continued to lift crude without formal contract extension for 20 months, lifting crude worth $24billion.
The contracts were formalised in December 2014 and backdated to cover the period from when they earlier expired.
The Chairman of the ad hoc committee, Hon. Zakari Mohammed (Kwara APC) in a telephone interview with THISDAY disclosed that the former minister would be invited by the committee.
“The former oil minister’s invitation will definitely go to her tomorrow (Monday). We are going to invite her, because contracts expired for 20 months, there was no renewal of contract, but the GMDs wrote to her, and she, on her own, approved the contracts,” he said.
It remains unclear how the former minister would be expected to honour the invitation following reports of her arrest in the United Kingdom, where her passport was also seized as part of her bail conditions.
Mohammed however explained that her not being able to appear is not a matter for the commitee, which has to have it on record that she was informed “that we need her attention…if we are now saying she will not show up, that is a matter of speculation.”
The lawmaker however debunked insinuations that the probe was targeted at the former minister, insisting that the House is determined to avoid a repeat of the sort of happenings that have been revealed in the course of the oil swap deals investigation.
“We need to know where she got her authority from, especially knowing fully well that the threshold of a minister is N100million, and these transactions were above N100million, so they ought to have gone the Federal Executive Council. These are the issues under which context we would invite her,” Mohammed added.
Speaking further, Mohammed disclosed that the Committee has directed Trafigura B/V to furnish it with its tax status in Amsterdam where the firm is registered.
Trafigura, between 2010 and 2014 lifted 12.5 million Metric tonnes of crude as part of the deal, but never remitted a kobo as tax to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS). It’s Managing Director, Mr. James Juslin had told the committee that his company is not required to pay tax in Nigeria, as an international company, with no representatives in Nigeria.
“We are determined to ensure that every Naira and Kobo owed to the Nigerian government by Trafigura and erring companies, are recovered. We have written to them (Trafigura) to tell us their tax status in Holland where they are registered, and they replied that it is taking them time to get it. We have given them the next four to five weeks, and we told them if there is no reply by then, we would presume their status,” Mohammed told THISDAY.
The investigations continue as the former Managing Director of the PPMC, Mr. Haruna Momoh is expected to appear before the committee next week tomorrow.