Alison-Madueke Refutes Claims She Awarded $24bn Oil Swaps without Contracts
Former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, who is currently undergoing extensive cancer treatment in the United Kingdom, has strongly refuted claims that she awarded crude oil swaps valued at $24 billion without supporting contracts.
In a statement, supported by letters from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to the former minister when she was in office, which was issued in Abuja through her spokesman, Mr. Clem Aguiyi, Alison-Madueke rejected reports attributed to the probe in the House of Representatives on the oil swaps claiming that she granted an “extension” instead of approval for the renewal of the contracts for the swaps.
She described the latest attack on her person as a fabricated tissue of lies deviously concocted to sustain the escalating evil narrative against her person.
Recalling the events and putting the facts in proper perspective, the former minister who spoke through Aguiyi insisted that what she gave were “approvals for renewal of contract for first, a one-year term each for Messrs Trafigura Beheer BV and Messrs Society Ivoirienne de Raffinage (SIR) in August 2010 and then for a two-year term in August 2011 for the same companies”.
The NNPC subsidiary, Duke Oil, was given approval for a one-year term in January 2011, while two other approvals were consequently sought by the group managing director of NNPC – the first of these on the 29th August 2014 was seeking to ratify all three aforementioned approvals which had apparently variously expired during the course of 2013, the statement said.
“In view of the criticality of the situation, the former minister immediately approved/ratified all three renewals. Expiration of those terms were put at 31st December 2014, following assurances to the former minister that the contractual obligations of the parties to NNPC had in fact been fully met, despite the regrettable lapse in renewal time,” it added.
Alison-Madueke, in the statement, revealed that the said lapses in expiration to renewal dates were seven months for Duke Oil, 10 months for SIR and 12 months for Trafigura.
“Secondly, on the 28th of October 2014, following the recommendation of the then GMD, NNPC, the minister approved OPAs for a new term of two years commencing from 1st January 2015.
“The entities recommended by NNPC were Sahara Energy Resources Ltd, Aiteo Energy and Duke Oil. NNPC strongly recommended and outlined the benefits of the OPAs over the SWAPs and put forward the case for migration from the OPAs and crude exchange (swap) contracts to OPAs fully.
“NNPC posited that the ‘experienced benefits of the OPAs to the federation’ would be much greater. All approvals were due process-driven and were only given by the former minister following formal statutory written requests, which contained the technical basis for the renewal and were sent to her by the GMD, NNPC, as is the normal practice.
“NNPC had clearly requested for the approval of the former minister for renewal of the crude oil for refined products exchange agreement and renewal of the offshore processing agreements on all the various occasions outlined earlier in this press release.
“Whereas, it was the former minister’s responsibility to either give or refuse approval, it was not within her purview as minister to draft, initiate or conclude the processes of signing the final contracts, as it is the statutory responsibility of NNPC to ensure that all technical areas are duly covered and all requisite due process parameters are duly implemented,” the statement noted.
According to her spokesman, “There would have been little need to respond to this particular issue at this time considering that the former minister is still indisposed and would have wished to be left alone to recuperate.
“She will speak for herself in due time. It is nevertheless imperative that records are set straight so that Nigerians and posterity will know the truth.
“Mr. (Austin) Oniwon (former GMD, NNPC) was right when he stated that the 445,000 barrels of crude oil for domestic refining is the property of NNPC, bought from the Federal Government of Nigeria at the prevailing rate and therefore as GMD, he did not need the Federal Executive Council’s or presidential approval to enter into swap arrangements that will enable NNPC fulfill its statutory obligations.
“It was also correct that contrary to the picture being painted in the media not more than 210,000 bpd out of the 445,000 bpd lifted by NNPC to ensure adequate supply and distribution of petroleum products was traded under the following swap arrangement: OPS – SIR – 60,000bpd; Swap – Trafigura – 60,000bpd; and swap – Duke Oil – 90,000bpd.
“What the GMD was required to execute of the above was the statutory approval from the minister for the companies! Refineries chosen by NNPC to participate in the swaps as outlined in Section 4 of the Petroleum Act and Section 20 of the NNPCAct.”
Continuing, Aguiyi said that it is incorrect to say that the former minister gave “approval for extensions” unless “extension” could legally be substituted for “renewal” because what Alison-Madueke gave (and the records are there) was approval for “renewal of contracts”.
“And these approvals were given based on the letters of request received from the GMD of NNPC,” he added.
Aguiyi also described as “extremely disturbing” reports that Trafigura and SIR had lifted crude worth $24 billion before their respective contracts were signed in 2014 and that those contracts were back-dated to look like they were signed in 2011 when their initial contracts first expired.
“If indeed that was the case, then the former minister could not have been party to it, as she was not involved in either the preparation or the signing of NNPC contracts.
“She reaffirmed that she most certainly signed the second set of requisite approvals requested by NNPC for renewal of the contracts of both Messrs Trafigura Beheer BV and Messrs Societe Ivoirienne de Raffinage in August of 2011 for a two-year term.
“The former minister clearly fulfilled her statutory obligations by signing the request for approval for the renewals as and when presented to her.
“She noted that on the 29th August 2014, NNPC sought her approval for a new short contract ratification term that would expire on 31st December 2014.
“It became apparent that NNPC had failed to request for ministerial approval between late 2013 and August 2014 when the previous respective contracts had variously expired which meant that the various transactions had had no written contractual cover for the periods varying from seven to 12 months as follows:
• SIR: contract expired 3rd October 2013 and was renewed 29th August 2014 (10 months without written contract);
• Trafigura: contract expired 30th September 2013 and was renewed 29th August 2014. (12 months without written contract);
• Duke Oil: contract expired 30th January 2014 and was renewed 29th August 2014. (seven months without written contract).
“It must be noted that the corporation gave assurances to the former minister that it had assiduously upheld all its rights and performed its obligations as if a written contract existed during the periods mentioned, thereby ensuring the protection and safeguard of all national interest,” Alison-Madueke’s spokesman said.
He added that the former minister also took time to correct what she described as the erroneous impression being created by the media that she originated the OPAs and swaps.
“It is important to note that the crude oil swap arrangement predates the tenure of Mrs. Alison-Madueke as Minister of Petroleum Resources. All the Swap/ Offshore Processing arrangements currently in place and under her watch followed the same rigid template that was established by late Alhaji Rilwanu Lukman as Petroleum Resources Minister and approved by late President Musa Yar’Adua in 2009.
“The Yar’Adua administration had in 2009 signed a one-year term Offshore Processing Agreement with Nigermed Petroleum SA, a joint venture company between NNPC and British Petroleum International (BPI),” he disclosed.
According to her spokesman, “The OPA and Crude Oil for Product Swap were strategic arrangements/decisions reached by the NNPC and the federal government in 2009 in view of the down-time of the nation’s refineries.
“The arrangement was designed to help NNPC achieve an effective and robust petroleum products delivery option to the Nigerian public. Under this arrangement, it was the responsibility of NNPC to identify a crude oil trader and term contract holder who had affiliations with a refinery.
“The former minister’s role was limited to granting statutory approval to requests made by NNPC in this regard. The former minister never exceeded her powers nor did she take on the role of anyone else,” he added.
Court of Appeal Upholds Adeleke’s Victory in Osun State Governorship Election
In a landmark judgement, the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has affirmed the victory of Senator Ademola Adeleke as the rightful governor of Osun State.
The ruling, which comes as a surprise to many, overturned the decision of the Osun State Governorship Tribunal which had earlier nullified Adeleke’s election victory.
Following the governorship polls in the state, an Election Petition Tribunal had sacked Adeleke from office, citing his failure to secure the majority of lawful votes during the July 16 governorship polls. However, in a unanimous agreement by a three-man panel led by Justice Mohammed Shuaibu, the Court of Appeal quashed the tribunal’s judgment and gave its verdict to uphold Adeleke’s victory.
The Appeal Court Panel revoked the tribunal’s order which directed that a Certificate of Return be withdrawn from Adeleke and issued to his predecessor and All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Gboyega Oyetola. The panel held that the Osun State Tribunal was wrong to have said that there was overvoting, a claim that only relied on the evidence by Oyetola and the APC, and as such, doesn’t prove their case in any way.
The judge faulted Oyetola and APC, that they only relied on the data from the back end server and failed to look at the voters register which forms the foundation of the whole electoral process and as such, cannot strengthen their allegations of overvoting. The court also resolved in favour of Adeleke on the issue of jurisdiction, stating that section 285(8) of the constitution as amended, the court has every right to entertain the appeal.
The ruling is a significant victory for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Adeleke, who had been locked in a legal battle with the APC over the governorship position since the election. Many Nigerians have applauded the Court of Appeal’s decision as a step towards consolidating the country’s democracy and upholding the rule of law.
The decision has also set a precedent for future electoral disputes in the country, as it highlights the importance of credible evidence in proving electoral malpractice claims. This ruling has shown that allegations of overvoting cannot be sustained without concrete evidence from the voters register, and political parties must be thorough in their investigations and presentation of evidence in such cases.
NIMC: Presidential Council Faults N1000 NIN Fee, Demands Review
The recently announced N1000 National Identification Number (NIN) verification fee for the application, issuance and renewal of international passports by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has been criticised.
The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, PEBEC faulted the mandated charge and called for a review.
Investors King had earlier reported that NIMC declared that Nigerians living in the country will pay N1000, while Nigerians residing in other African countries will pay $3 or its equivalent in other currencies and those in other continents across the world will pay $10 or its equivalent in other countries as NIN verification fee for application, issuance and renewal of their international passports.
Reacting to the development, the Special Adviser to the President on Ease of Doing Business/PEBEC Secretary, Jumoke Oduwole, in a statement, emphasised the need for a review to make citizens enjoy quicker and less expensive government services.
Oduwole, who commended the collaboration between NIMC and Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), said such a partnership will enhance passport services.
She noted that stakeholders are not impressed with the extra charge to be paid for the NIN verification before they can process their passports.
According to her, the outline of the Business Facilitation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2022 signed into law by the President Muhammadu Buhari on February 8, 2023 states that where an applicant requires the service of a ministry, department or agency, the MDA involved is mandated to conduct the necessary verification or certification from relevant MDAs, in respect of the applicant.
Investors King understands that PUBEC was set up in 2016 by President Buhari with the aim of curbing hectic bottlenecks and bureaucratic limitations accompanied with owning and managing business enterprises in Nigeria.
The chairman of the council is the vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. PUBEC has since its existence periodically issued EO1 Compliance Reports containing monthly reports of Ministries, Departments and Agencies submitted to the council.
INEC Considers Postponement of Governorship and State Assembly Elections Amidst Legal Battles
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is currently considering the possibility of postponing the upcoming governorship and state assembly elections, following the legal battles that have arisen from the recent presidential and national assembly polls.
INEC is expected to make a decision on the issue during a meeting of its national commissioners, scheduled for Wednesday night.
Investors King understands that the legal battles revolve around the extraction of data embedded in the bimodal voter accreditation system (BVAS) and the inspection of other election materials.
The presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, and the standard bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, have filed similar applications seeking to obtain the certified true copy (CTC) of all the data in the BVAS.
INEC has opposed the applications, arguing that granting them would affect its preparations for the forthcoming elections.
Tanimu Inuwa, counsel to INEC, has asked the court to vary the orders granting permission to Obi and Atiku to inspect all the sensitive materials used in the conduct of the presidential election.
However, the court has refused to grant INEC’s request, stating that the commission failed to specify which of the orders it wished to vary.
The court has clarified that it granted Obi and LP permission to do electronic scanning and/or make photocopies of voter registration and ballot papers used in the conduct of the election, and not permission to access the database of INEC, as misconceived by the electoral body.
Given the legal battles and the possible impact on preparations for the forthcoming elections, INEC is now considering postponing the governorship and state assembly elections.
This decision, if taken, would have significant implications for the electoral process and could further heighten tensions in the country.
The ongoing legal battles highlight the need for all stakeholders to work together to ensure a free, fair and credible electoral process. It is essential that INEC and other stakeholders prioritize the integrity of the electoral process over political expediency and work towards resolving these legal disputes in a timely and transparent manner.
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