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ANEEJ, National Assembly, others attack Petroleum Minister over planned probe of ministry’s activities
Report by NNEWS Correspondent

 

"President Goodluck Jonathan does not only have to show to Nigerians and the international Community that his administration is responding to the monumental corruption in the oil industry, it needs to demonstrate its commitment to Nigerians that it "is irrevocably committed to tackling corruption in the petroleum industry as well as other sectors of the economy," as announced in his Monday broadcast.".

An NGO, `Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) has said rather than EFCC, ``the federal government should institute an independent body to investigate into the books of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

 

The Executive Director of ANEEJ, Rev. David Ugolor, who expressed this view, also took a swipe at the Nigerian Minister of petroleum resources, Mrs Diezani Alison Madueke over her call for EFCC’s probe into the activities of her ministry.


Executive Director of ANEEJ, Rev. David Ugolor

Rev. Ugolor "I find this absurd and cannot understand what is happening in this country anymore

`` It is an irony that the minister of Petroleum Resources, whose ministry is accused of Corruption is the same person setting up the probe into her ministry.

``What will come out of such a probe? He asked rhetorically.

Ugolor told NNEWS that ``In the course of the weeklong paralysis of the Nigerian economy occasioned by the strike and protests called by organised labour and Civil Society Organisations over the removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government, Nigerians openly asked President Goodluck Jonathan among several other questions:

```Why did the Federal Government not deal with the issue of corruption which informed its decision to remove subsidy on PMS?

He said that they find it absurd that the Minister of petroleum resources, Diezani Alison Madueke to have invited the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to probe activities of her ministry regarding fuel subsidy management.

 `She will set up a committee to work with the anti-graft agency to discharge their duties along other measures being taken to respond to the issue of corruption in the petroleum ministry.

Ugolor noted that "Nigerians cannot be fooled by this charade called probe in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.

`` In law, you cannot be a judge in your own case. That is what Diezani Alison Madueke seems to be doing right now.

`` We think that it is in her interest for an independent body to look into the books she supervised. This, in our view is important against the backdrop of allegations by the National Assembly that the petroleum ministry paid out more billions of Naira on PMS subsidy than was approved for it in the 2011 budget.

"Again, the President in his broadcast to the nation on Monday morning promised Nigerians that the report of the forensic audit carried out on the NNPC is being studied with a view to implementing the recommendations and sanctioning proven acts of corruption in the industry."

The activist then recalled that the auditors, KPMG and another Nigerian auditing firm, S.S. Afemikhe & Co, had x-rayed the books of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) after the 36 state Governors had raised the issue of allegation of “wrongful deductions at source by the NNPC to fund its operations”

He then asked ``why the long delay in releasing the audit report? Why is the Federal Ministry of Finance or Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) not taking a lead on the subsidy scandal?

``Why are they not taking the lead in the re-examination of the KPMG forensic audit report Why should the Petroleum Minister who presided over the sleaze take the lead in the probe?" ANEEJ boss queried.

"It is for these reasons that we demand independent investigations into all of these weighty allegations. We want President Goodluck Jonathan to get to the bottom of all these and there should be no cover-ups, otherwise, the consequences would be worse than could be imagined.

"President Goodluck Jonathan does not only have to show to Nigerians and the international Community that his administration is responding to the monumental corruption in the oil industry, it needs to demonstrate its commitment to Nigerians that he "is irrevocably committed to tackling corruption in the petroleum industry as well as other sectors of the economy," as announced in his Monday broadcast.".

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) on Tuesday said that payments made in respect of fuel subsidy by the NNPC lacked transparency and due process.

Prof. Assisi Asobie, Chairman of the Board of NEITI said this in Abuja at an investigative hearing organised by the House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee on the Management of Fuel Subsidy.

It is recalled that the house had at an emergency session on Jan. 8, constituted an ad hoc committee to investigate the fuel subsidy regime in the country.

Prof. Assobie said that subsidy payments should be made from the Central Bank of Nigeria through the Petroleum Equalisation Fund.

The NEITI chairman said that payment could only be effected on the approval of the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF) with the approval of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).

``Payment should be made only on the approval of the AGF based on claims approved by PPPRA,’’ he said.

He accused the NNPC of deducting directly from estimated amounts from the domestic crude proceeds before remitting the rest to the federation Account.

The NEITI boss maintained that NNPC, like other petroleum product importers, should draw claims for subsidy after verification of its claims by the PPPRA and approval by the NNPC.

He said that during the audit of the oil and gas sector for 2006 and 2008, NEITI discovered inadequacies that complicated the problem of accurate determination of volume of imported petroleum products into the country.

According to him, in 2006 to 2008, the total oil lifted from the country was 8.8 million barrels, while NNPC lifted 4.8 million barrels.

He said that from 2002, NNPC lifted domestic crude at market price, providing incentive for export of domestic crude rather that domestic refining of all crude.

Prof. Asobie said that the measurement methods used by PPMC and DPR were not in line with international best practices, saying this could not be relied upon.

He said that the methods used for recording the movement of refined products through the PPMC pipeline system were outdated, paper-based and subject to error.

The chairman therefore advised the NNPC and PPMC to strengthen their controls over product importation and distribution.

The Nigerian senate has also warned the EFCC not to treat with levity anyone found culpable in the mismanagement of the subsidy funds as `sacred cows.’’

The upper legislative chamber hinted that the EFCC was in the first instance created the subsidy crisis.

The senate, which gave the warning following EFCC’s raid on the office of the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) followed an invitation by the petroleum ministry to investigate the management of fuel subsidy.

The EFCC on Monday swooped on the PPPRA’s office in Abuja, demanding for documents relating to the administration of petroleum subsidy.

The invitation to the EFCC to investigate the management of the fuel subsidy scheme followed demands for transparency and accountability in governance especially in the oil and gas sector

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