Chineme Okafor in Abuja
Human rights lawyer and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana, thursday claimed that about $12.7 billion worth of crude oil was stolen from Nigeria between 2011 and 2014.
Falana also alleged that records from the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) showed that up to 60.2 million barrel of oil not recorded in Nigeria was taken from the country and discharged in one port in Philadelphia, United States of America.
The lawyer, who spoke at the 40th anniversary celebration of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) in Abuja, called on the oil union to prevail on anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria to institute a probe to trace the funds and determine the culprits.
Falana equally called for the immediate recovery from oil companies, royalties accrued to the Federation Account since 2014, stating that the Offshore and Inland Sharing Contract Act which provided that for 50 years, no royalty would be collected from oil and gas mined from below 1,000 meters depth had expired in 2014.
Describing the oil theft in the country as an alarming case, Falana, explained that data on the crude oil theft was released by NIMASA. He subsequently promised to make the report available to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and other stakeholders in the industry.
“The study revealed that the value of the money from oil stolen from Nigeria is $12.7 billion. The oil was discharged in one port. We have identified who the oil majors are and the shipping companies involved, but since 2014, we have been begging the Nigeria Government to recover the money,” Falana alleged.
He urged PENGASSAN, the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to institute a probe to track and investigate the volume of crude oil stolen from Nigeria and discharged at ports in the United States, India, China, France and Britain, noting that if the issue was taken seriously, Nigeria would see the return of over $100 billion.
He explained further: “This is the real money that should be recovered. That is why I am appealing to NUPENG, PENGASSAN and NLC to assist in going to the root of this criminality at the international level and recover the money and put it in the federation coffers so that our people can enjoy the benefits of the oil and gas industry.”
Falana also challenged the labour unions to look into the Halliburton case to ensure that justice prevails as well as see to it that recovered fund is used for the benefit of the country.
The right activists said Nigerians were yet to get the value from the oil and gas industry, calling on the unions to focus on the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) and determine how best it could be utilised for the interest of the country.
Also speaking at the event, the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, called on PENGASSAN to collaborate with the NNPC and provide ideas that would guarantee the profitability, optimum performance and sustainability of its business and operations.
Baru said this was necessary to ensure the business of the corporation was sustained and staff welfare automatically addressed.