By Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The SenateÂ on WednesdayÂ accused the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Ibe Kachukwu, and the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, of sharp practices in the ongoing Oil and Gas Lease Renewal exercise in the petroleum industry.
It expressed concern that it’s Committee on Petroleum Resources Upstream had since December 2017 been inundated with a myriad of petitions and complaints over multiplicity of irregularities associatedÂ with the ongoing renewal of oil and gas leases being executed by the minister and DPR.
Debating a motion on the irregularities in the ongoing oil and gas lease renewal and massive loss of government revenue moved by Senator Omotayo Alasoadura (Ondo Central), the Senate presided over by Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu expressed concern over the alleged irregularities being perpetrated byÂ Kachikwu and DPR in the petroleum sector.
The upper chamber of the National AssemblyÂ emphasised that government was bound to lose revenue in excess of $10bn due to illegal discounts and rebates associated with the process of oil and gas lease renewal.
The Senate noted with concern that the actionÂ of Kachikwu was capable of shortchanging the country and denying the federation the appropriate revenueÂ acruable from the renewal of the said leases
Senator Alasoadura, who is Chairman of the Committee on Petroleum Resources Upstream in the motion jointly sponsored with three other Senators namely Baba Garbai(Borno Central), James Manager(Delta South) and Gershom Bassey(Cross River South) had observed that Kachikwu and DPR have brazenly opted to depart from subsisting legal frameworkÂ and due process mandated by extant law for the renewal of all leases.
While expressing concern that the DPR has deliberately refused to provide the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources Upstream with relevant information and data relating to the ongoingÂ lease renewal, the Senate observes that under the provision of extant laws, failure to pay royalties is a ground for revocation of leases and a legal barrier to renewal of applicable leases.
The SenateÂ thereafter mandated its Committee on Petroleum Resources Upstream to investigate all issues relating to the on-going lease renewal being undertaken by the minister and DPR and to report to the Senate the anomalies in the renewal process and identify appropriateÂ measures to correct the said anomalies.