The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) subsidiary, NNPC Retail, along with 22 major and independent petroleum products marketing firms owed the federal government at least N86.4 billion by July 21, 2016.
The debts are in respect of products allocated to the companies by the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC) for distribution over the last 10 years, details seen by this newspaper show.
The documents were filed to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Members of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) and the NNPC Retail (mega filling stations) account for about 85 per cent of the debt, while the independent marketers owe the balance.
The major marketers include NNPC Retail (N22.56 billion), Oando (N25.05 billion), Forte Oil (N10.09 billion), Nigerian Independent Petroleum Company (NIPCO) N5.5 billion, Total Oil (N1.42 billion), Conoil (N1.3 billion) and Mobil Oil (N276.95 million).
The independent marketers include Master Energy (N5.5 billion), MRS Oil & Gas (N3.997 billion), Heyden Petroleum (N2.7 billion), Danium Petroleum (N2.35 billion), A&E Petroleum (N1.89 billion), Rahamaniyya Petroleum N1.65 billion), Càpital Oil (N1.3 billion), and Amicable Petroleum (N495.35 million).
Others debtors are Aiteo Petroleum (N426.37 million), Honeywell Oil (N40.96 million), DM Kurfi (N36.11 million), Ascon Petroleum (N20.04 million), Azman Oil (N19.35 million), Felande Petroleum (N8.4 million), Sharon Oil (N3.8 million) and Zamson Petroleum (N3.06 million).
The most indebted companies are owned by some of Nigeria’s and Africa’s richest billionaires.
Oando PLC, which owes the largest chunk of N25.05 billion, is owned by Wale Tinubu.
Femi Otedola, another billionaire, owns Forte Oil, which is responsible for N10.09 billion. Conoil is owned by Mike Adenuga, who is also the telecoms company, Globacom. The company is owing N1.3 billion.
The allocation of products to the firms was under the intervention bulk allocation arrangement and intervention truck distribution to marketers by the NNPC marketing and distribution subsidiary from its Suleja, and other products depots across the country.
The arrangements fetched revenues from partnership agreements for products supplied by the PPMC, which the oil marketing firms refused to pay to the government over the years.
Petition for action
A law firm, B. I. Murtala & Co., had petitioned the EFCC, accusing top NNPC and PPMC officials of “abuse of office, economic sabotage, illegal diversion of petroleum products, illicit enrichment and corruption as well as criminal conspiracy”.
The petitioner listed suspected officials it wanted investigated to include the Supervisor and Area Manager, Kaduna Depot of PPMC, Ajabi Hussaini and Rabo Shuaibu respectively, and Manager, Programming & Operations, NNPC, Abuja, Ahmed Tukur Gwarzo.
Others include Executive Directors, Commercial as well as Shared Services, PPMC, Ezecha Justin and Mustapha Muhammad respectively, and Manager, Finance & Accounts, PPMC, Titonenye Kokade.
“There exists a conspiracy between PPMC/NNPC and suspected oil marketers who deliberately withheld huge government revenues in respect of petroleum products received on credit without due payment or remittance into the Federation Account,” the petitioner said.
The law firm alleged the process of allocation and distribution of petroleum products by PPMC/NNPC was fraught with fraud and criminal conspiracies with marketers, leading to massive diversion of government revenues from the federation account.
Following EFCC’s investigations, NNPC Retail paid back over N15.95 billion between July 25 and August 1, 2016, with over N6.62 billion still outstanding. The EFCC also recovered over N5.57 billion from NIPCO, leaving a balance of N1.93 billion.
Other recoveries include N1.2 billion from Master Energy, with N4.31 billion still unpaid; N2.2 billion from MRS Petroleum, which still has N1.75 billion to pay, while Rahamaniyya Oil & Gas repaid N400 million, to leave N1.25 billion unsettled.
The PPMC, through a memo, August 1, 2016, by the NNPC Company Secretary/Legal Adviser, Omoluabi Victor, informed the EFCC of the payments.
IPMAN President, Chinedu Okoronkwo, did not respond to phone calls on Sunday. He also did not respond to a text message.
However, a senior official of the MOMAN, who asked not to be named because of the sensitive nature of the issue, said the relationship between NNPC/PPMC and marketers allowed marketers to owe for a long time without reconciliation and payment.
“Products are supplied and an average of two weeks grace given for payment. Depending on the time of reconciliation, there could be credit and debit here and there. There is no month marketers would not owe NNPC for products supplied.
“There is always overlapping period before reconciliation. But, no marketer would owe for a long period of 10 years without NNPC taking action to recover monies from them,” he said.
The acting General Manager, NNPC Retail, Ibrahim Jumah, who spoke in the same vein, said although PPMC was one of the major sources for products by NNPC Retail, there was a regular arrangement for reconciliation for payment.
“NNPC Retail has a credit period of two weeks with PPMC. But, from June, we wrote to PPMC and insisted we want to proceed on cash and carry basis. So, we have been paying for products, and sometimes cannot even lift all,” Mr. Jumah, who is also the GM, Finance & Accounts, NNPC Retail,” he said.
“The PPMC is owing us N1.9 billion for coastal products we paid for about two years ago and have not been able to lift. So, they cannot classify us as indebted to them.”
The spokesperson for Forte Oil, Sam Ogbogoro, asked for time till Monday to respond to PREMIUM TIMES enquiry, as he would need to consult with officials of the company familiar with the facts of the case before responding.
He did not revert at the time of this report.
FG Awaits National Assembly’s Nod Before Take-Off of $800m Cash-Transfer to About 50m Poor Nigerians
About 50 million poor and vulnerable households in Nigeria are eagerly waiting for the take-off of the National Social Safety Net Programme Scale Up which is aimed at alleviating their poverty through monetary provisions by the Federal Government.
Data from the National Social Safety Net Coordinating Office revealed that there were about 12.06 million poor and vulnerable households in the country, totalling 49.81 million persons.
Investors King reports that the social safety-nets are part of broader social protection systems comprising non-contributory transfers in cash or in kind, designed to provide support for the poor and vulnerable people in the country.
Through this scheme, which has already been captured by the Federal Government in its 2023 Budget, thousands of poor households would be supported with cash, while others in need of material provisions would also be included.
The Federal Government has said that in order to reach out to targeted persons, especially in the rural communities across the country, it will deploy Point-of-Sales agents for cash transfers during the programme billed to commence this year.
Already, the National Social Safety-Net Coordinating Office (NASSCO) which is collaborating with the World Bank has been working on building a National Social Register (NSR) that would contain poor and vulnerable Nigerians who are direct beneficiaries of the $800million earmarked for the project.
The programme, which is to be implemented by the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, has the approval of World Bank and it would run till June 30, 2024.
Announcing that POS agents would be co-opted to transfer the money to the needy, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr Zainab Ahmed, said the Federal Government was waiting for the approval of the National Assembly before the programme would commence.
Ahmed, who made this known while hosting the Executive Director, Angola, Nigeria, South Africa Constituency of the World Bank Group, Ms Ayanda Dlodlo, in Abuja last week Friday, said the social safety net would be expanded.
According to her, the NASSP-Scale Up has been approved by the bank and the Federal Executive Council, while the financial implications have been catered for in the 2023 Appropriation Act presented recently to the NASS by President Muhammadu Buhari.
To activate the project, the minister said the National Assembly must approve it, adding that there are efforts to expand the rapid response register to capture those who had slid into poverty of recent.
Also, she disclosed that the government is working with agents network in the banking system and other financial services for the cash transfer programme.
The minister said all of the database required have been worked upon for easy disbursement of the money by banks.
With the engagement of PoS agents, Ahmed pointed out that hard-to-reach communities and villages without banks would be covered in the programme.
Speaking, the Executive Director, Angola, Nigeria, South Africa Constituency of the World Bank Group, Ms Ayanda Dlodlo, canvassed the urgent need for government to tackle food insecurity and poor power supply in the country.
Dlodlo said about 600 million people in the African continent lack access to electricity, which she described as vital element to national development.
European Union to Donate €102.5m to Nigeria, Other African Countries
An international organisation, European Union (EU) has disclosed that Nigeria and some other African countries will benefit from its €102.5m humanitarian aid.
The EU consists of 27 European countries with a common interest on issues pertaining to common economic, social and security.
Investors King reports that other countries marked to take part in the humanitarian aid of the European Union aside Nigeria are Chad, Niger and Cameroon amongst others.
The international organisation disclosed its decision during the third high-level conference on the Lake Chad Region held in Niamey on Monday and Tuesday.
According to the EU, the conference was organised to enhance regional, cross-border agreements and interactions to tackle the issues bedeviling the region.
It earmarked the assistance for the developing countries in order to provide food needs for its citizens especially those affected by conflicts or war.
This will in turn reduce the ravaging undernutrition problem in children under the age of five in the chosen African nations.
The Lake Chad region mapped out comprises the far west of Chad, northeast of Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon. It is popular for violent attacks, killings, displacement and other vices which have demoralised the region and retarded its development.
The European Union’s aid to underdeveloped countries will serve as its intervention for the social well-being of the nations hit by conflicts to reduce its awful impacts.
Investors King understands that the relationship between EU and Nigeria has been cordial through discussion platforms to address democracy, political issues, good governance, migration and security issues. Also, social-economic matters like trade, healthcare, water, sanitation, food security, climate change amongst others are jointly worked upon as need arises.
Failed Gas Deal: Trial Begins in UK Firm’s Suit Against Nigeria Over Unpaid $11 Billion
Trial into the protracted lawsuit between a British Virgin Islands-registered firm, Process & Industrial Development Ltd. (P&ID) and the Federal Republic of Nigeria over the failure of the latter to pay the firm the whooping sum of $11 billion will commence this week before a United Kingdom High Court.
Investors King gathered that the case emanated from a failed gas deal between the firm and the Nigerian government that dated 2010.
Available facts revealed that Nigeria had in 2010 entered into an agreement with the firm to provide free processed gas for P&ID within a period of 20 years in exchange for an oil refinery facility that P&ID would build for the country.
The firm is said to have bided for the gas supply in order to generate electricity with it and also sell it’s remaining to interested buyers.
P&ID had claimed it failed to build the planned refinery because the Nigerian government failed to tap its natural gas and deliver to it as allegedly agreed during their contract signing.
Explaining why the country defaulted in honouring the agreement, the incumbent Nigeria’s government had accused the P&ID of bribing previous administration officials to secure the gas contract and colluded with former government lawyers and officials to put up what it described as a “sham defense” when the matter became a subject of litigation.
Checks by Investors King revealed that the deal was made during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2010.
Its implementation was said to have got delayed till 2015 when Jonathan lost reelection to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Following the change of power, the deal was stalled as the incumbent administration alleged that the deal came about through bribes to former government officials, and that the award should be revoked.
Buhari’s administration had directed the law enforcement agencies to investigate allegations of bribery surrounding the 2010 gas contract and insisted that bank records indicated that four government officials or their family members received bribes from P&ID before the contract was signed, and that one of them has admitted to overlooking “obvious deficiencies” in the company’s proposal.
Nigeria’s anti-graft agency has also charged the lawyer that represented the state during the arbitration for allegedly bribing public officials involved in the proceedings.
Not pleased with Nigerian government’s allegations, P&ID initiated arbitration in 2012 and claimed that attempts to resolve the issue privately had failed.
Meanwhile, in 2017, a closed-door arbitration court in the UK ordered Nigeria to pay $6.6 billion to the firm to compensate for lost profits over the failed facility project. The $6.6 billion awarded against Nigeria is said to have grown to over $11 billion with interest.
Ever since, P&ID, had been pressuring Nigeria to make the payment. In 2019, the stakes rose again when a UK judge issued an order enforcing the award.
P&ID had denied all allegations and described the Nigerian government’s claims of fraud as an attempt to dodge liability.
Meanwhile, as the case resumes this week in London, Nigerian government is expected to present its case and convince the court to quash the arbitration ruling.
UK high court judge, Ross Cranston had said in a 2020 ruling that there was a strong case to be made that for it to be convinced that the gas processing contract was procured by bribes paid to insiders as part of a larger scheme to defraud the country.
It was reported that Nigeria’s economy would suffer a deeper crisis if the country loses in London as P&ID has said it wold demand legal approval to confiscate Nigeria’s overseas assets, thus making it more expensive for Nigeria to raise money in international capital markets.
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