Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The Senate Committee charged with the investigation of allegations of the award of $25 billion worth of unapproved contracts by the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Maikanti Baru, may be considering redirecting its focus from Baru to investigating alleged corrupt practices by the NNPC Trading Company.
The trading company comprises Duke Oil (a subsidiary of the NNPC), Hyson/Carlson (JV), NAP Oil (JV); and West Africa-Gas Limited (JV).
This is as the Senator Aliyu Wamakko-chaired committee held its inaugural meeting yesterday, more than two weeks after it was constituted by Senate President Bukola Saraki on October 4, 2017.
The committee with the mandate to investigate the various allegations levelled against Baru, by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikuwu,Â had last Tuesday postponed its inaugural meeting where the nine members were supposed to fashion out and agree on the modalities for the investigation.
Kachikwu in a leaked memo to President Muhammad Buhari had accused Baru ofÂ insubordination, unilaterally awarding the contracts and making appointments of senior management staff, without recourse to the Board of the NNPC which the Juniour Petroleum minister chairs.
THISDAY had reported that the committee is under pressure from the presidency to provide a soft landing for Baru, and avoid a situation where he would be indicted.
Sources indicated that the pressure which the committee has come under, may cause it to rather shift its attention to the activities of the trading company, particularly on Duke Oil.
Duke Oil was registered in Panama in 1989 and does not pay tax in Nigeria despite earnings millions of dollars from various NNPC contracts, for which it enjoys preferential treatment.
The name of the committee also indicates that its focus may be the trading company; ad hoc committee on the investigation of allegations of corruption against the NNPC Trading Company Limited.
A source had told THISDAY last week, that unravelling Duke Oil would be key to exposing corruption in the NNPC, as the companyâ€™s dealings are known only to the management of the NNPC.