Falana Gives FG Seven Days to Release Spending on Fuel Subsidy

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Gboyega Akinsanmi

A human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, wednesday asked the federal government to furnish him with the cost of fuel subsidy and volumes of petroleum products imported into the country between December 2017 and March 2018.

Falana equally rejected conflicting figures the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) claimed to have paid as the cost of subsidy between December 2017 and March 2018.

He made the request in a letter he addressed to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachukwu, yesterday pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act.

Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), faulted the country’s consumption rate of petroleum products the NNPC management released between December 2017 and March 2018.

In the two-letter, Falana noted that the NNPC disclosed that the country’s consumption rate of fuel was 28 million litres per day in December 2017 just as the subsidy cost was N726 million per day and N261.4 billion per annum.

He noted that the NNPC Group Managing Director, Dr. Maikanti Baru claimed on March 5 that the figure had metamorphosed to 50 million litres per day and that NNPC had spent $5.8 billion (N1.7 trillion) on fuel importation in January and February.

The senior advocate said the petroleum minister himself stated at a public forum held in Abuja two weeks ago that the consumption rate of fuel has skyrocketed to 60 million and that the cost of subsidy is N1.4 trillion per month!
He said: “We are not unaware that the increasing consumption rate has been blamed on the smuggling of imported fuel from Nigeria to neighbouring countries by some economic saboteurs.

“Assuming without conceding that the story of smuggling is true, the total volume of fuel consumed by Benin, Togo, Cameroon, Niger, Chad and Ghana is said to be less than 250,000 litres per day.

According to the human rights lawyer, “the petroleum minister will agree with me that this does not explain the difference of 32 million litres per day between the consumption rate of imported fuel in December 2017 and March 2018. “

He said: “With respect to the alleged subsidy of fuel importation you failed to disclose the amount realised from the sale of the 60 million litres at N145 per liter. You have also conveniently failed to account for the sale of the 445,000 barrels of crude oil allocated to the NNPC daily by the federal government.”

He rejected the federal government’s claim that a gap of 32 million litres a day (at N145 per litre is N4.6 billion daily) was due to smuggling, saying the claim “is untenable given the billions of naira continually expended on Project Aquila Software by the Petroleum Equalisation Fund to track every litre of petroleum product evacuated from the depots and sold at retail stations in the country.”

Falana rhetorically asked that since the Project Aquila Software “has capability to identify the identity of owners and locations of all trucks loading petroleum products in Nigeria, why has your office and NNPC continue to blame smuggling for the drain of N4.6billion daily on petroleum products?”

The senior advocate, also, demanded “to know how many of the truck owners involved in the alleged smuggling have been arrested and arraigned in court since Aquila has the data base of all truck owners in the country?”

He asked the federal government to furnish him with copies of the following documents: bill of laden and DPR certified cargo discharged certificates of the imported subsidized petroleum products into the country from December 2017-March 2018.

He also requested for copies of Offshore Processing Agreements (OPAs) pertaining to the Sale of the 445,000 barrels of crude oil per day plus any additional crude Barrels approved for domestic consumption between December 2017 and March 2018.

He asked the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to release documents detailing volumes of domestic refined products by the nations’ local refineries against gross expenditure on refinery turn around maintenance and expended budget in 2017.

He sought to know gross amount of forex differential or forex subsidy (gap Between CBN rate and Special rate approved for fuel importation) from December 2017 to March 2018.

He demanded documents to release documents that detailed amount expended by PEF on Project Aquila from inception aimed at tracking Petroleum Trucks nationwide to prevent smuggling of petroleum products.