- NNPC Hired Firms Facing Corruption Charges for Refineries’ TAM – Reps
The House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating the fresh Turn Around Maintenance being planned for the country’s four refineries on Tuesday queried the criteria used in selecting the consortium of firms listed for the contracts.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation had set aside over $1.8bn for the repairs, which it preferred to call comprehensive rehabilitation, as against the traditional TAM.
The House is investigating the desirability of another TAM on the refineries after a series of TAM in the past reportedly gulped over $20bn and still left the plants operating at below 20 per cent installed capacities.
The panel, which is headed by a member of the All Progressives Congress from Kaduna State, Mr. Garba Datti-Muhammad, had summoned the NNPC to produce documents on the status of the refineries and the financial implications of running them at the expense of taxpayers.
But, on Tuesday, after examining the documents, lawmakers observed that some of the firms engaged to carry out the fresh $1.8bn TAM were facing corruption charges across the globe, including the celebrated $1.2bn Malabu Oil deal linked to former top officials of the Nigerian government.
Among the consortia of firms on the NNPC’s list are names like Trafigura, Eni, MIRS and Sahara.
The lawmakers particularly cited the case of Eni, whose directors are being prosecuted in some countries, including Italy.
Aside from the allegations of fraudulent transactions hanging against some of the firms, the committee also pointed out that they were oil marketers and did not appear to have the technical background to repair refineries.
The lawmakers grilled the Chief Operating Officer, Refineries and Petrochemicals, NNPC, Mr. Anibor Kragha, at the resumed sitting of the committee in Abuja on Tuesday.
A member of the committee and Chairman, House Committee on Justice, Mr. Razak Atunwa, leading the questioning, asked how the NNPC would still engage firms “facing corruption and fraud allegations around the world.”
Atunwa stated, “These firms, and I can see Eni on your list; are you saying that they are going to handle this work for you in spite of all the issues they have?
“You are saying that firms with fraud cases over their necks in Italy and elsewhere around the globe will be the ones to work for Nigeria? What was your reason for selecting them?”
Incidentally, it was Atunwa who chaired another panel of the House that investigated the $1.2bn Malabu deal.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan and his ministers, including Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke and Mr. Mohammed Adoke, were named in the Malabu deal.
Another member of the committee and former oil industry unionist, Mr. Peter Akpatason, told the session that he was aware that some of the firms were mainly oil marketers.
However, Kragha claimed that the idea was not to use the firms to handle the rehabilitation of the refineries directly, but to act as funding facilitators.
He also told the committee that the firms had been deeply involved in the oil sector in Nigeria, providing technical support and training at several levels to the oil corporation.
Kragha explained that the real work on the refineries would be executed by the original builders.
“We are contacting the original builders of the refineries. There are a whole lot of discussions involved this process,” he added.
Kragha told the committee that the NNPC was sourcing the funds required for the repairs, as the refineries were behind schedule for the usual two-yearly TAM by over 10 years.
Amid the barrage of questions from the lawmakers, Kragha lost his temper, resulting in the exchange of hot words between him and the House members.
Atunwa, in particular, took exception to Kragha’s conduct as he raised his voice.
He shouted, “I will ask you questions and you will answer me; don’t be tricky about it! You don’t talk back to me. This is the parliament of Nigeria. I am elected to ask you questions and you are to answer me.
“You sit down there in your office, spending billions of naira and you are not doing the work you are paid to do. Who are you?”
Kragha too replied angrily, “I am not being tricky; I have been answering your questions. Don’t shout me down; stop shouting at me that way!”