By Adedayo Akinwale ín Abuja
The Senate and House of Representatives joint committee on the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has concluded plans to investigate 17 international oil companies (IOCs) including Shell Petroleum, Conoil and the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (NLNG) for alleged indebtedness to NDDC.
The Chairman, House Committee on NDDC, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo (APC, Ondo), disclosed this during a media chat with journalists in Abuja Monday.
He said that other oil firms to be investigated by the joint committee included: Shebah Express Petroleum, Atlas Petroleum, Allied Energy, Frontier Oil, Seven Energy Limited, Belma Oil Producing Limited, AITECO Exploration and Production, Dubrin Oil and Continental Oil and Gas.
He added that Enageed Resources Limited, New Cross Exploration and Production, Pan Ocean Oil Corporation Nigeria Limited, Nigeria Petroleum Development Company and Prime Exploration and Production Company would equally be investigated.
Tunji-Ojo explained further that as part of the investigation, the Minister of Finance, Hajia Zainab Ahmed; Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele; the Accountant General of the Federation, Alhaji Ahmed Idris; and Auditor General of the Federation, Mr. Anthony Ayine, would also testify before the joint committee.
He stated that the 9th National Assembly cannot afford to sit and watch oil companies deny the NDDC of its statutory revenue from firms operating in the country.
Tunji-Ojo recalled that the 8th National Assembly did a technical audit of the NDDC and the findings were very revealing, insisting that the 9th Assembly would recover the monies.
He stated: “Records have shown that the affected oil companies are jointly owing the NDDC N72 billion and $73 million respectively,” adding that the federal government is also owing the agency a whopping N1.2 trillion.
“These companies we are investigating are owing the NDDC huge sums of money, which when remitted to it would improve the fortunes of the people of the Niger Delta area. By the records we have, a company like Shell Petroleum Development Company is said to be owing more than N54.9 billion.
“We also have it on good authority that Pan Ocean is owning as much as $46.6 million, while Allied Energy is indebted to the tune of $43 million, and Shebah Express Petroleum owes as much as $23.8 million and then Atlas Petroleum is owing $22 million.”
Tunji-Ojo stressed that some of the IOCs were alleged to be tampering with their annual budgets, adding that some are said to be paying the actual expenditure or stop gap, whereas as the law provides that it should be the annual budget.
He said all the affected companies must appear before the joint committee on Wednesday to tell Nigerians why they have blatantly refused to abide by the laws of the nation, while assuring Nigerians that the National Assembly would recover every dime due to the NDDC.