The House of Representatives on Monday gave the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the Central Bank of Nigeria a one-week ultimatum to produce documents on various controversial Oil Prospecting Licences and Oil Mining Leases worth over $1.75bn.
Also affected are the Department of Petroleum Resources and the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation.
An ad hoc committee of the House is investigating allegations of breach of due process in the award of the licences and the alleged non-payment of application fees, royalties and signature bonuses by individuals and oil firms that benefited from the deals.
The committee, which is chaired by Mr. Gideon Gwani, had, on Friday last week, summoned the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mr. Maikanti Baru, and the Governor of the CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, to provide information on the oil block proceeds.
But on Monday, the NNPC, CBN and DPR officials appeared before the committee without the documents.
Rather than supply the information, the officials opted to trade blame on which agency of government was in possession of the documents.
Reacting to the development, a member of the committee, Mr. Diri Douye, expressed disbelief that neither the DPR nor the AGF’s office could provide reliable documents on the transactions.
For instance, he said while the DPR said $100m was paid in respect of one of the wells, OPL 257, the AGF’s office claimed that the money could not be traced.
Douye added, “There are several contradictions contained in the documents submitted to us by the DPR and the AGF and we must get to the root of this matter.
“That is why we have asked the CBN to provide us with the statement of accounts of the DPR so we can be sure we got the right document from the DPR.”
The CBN was also not helpful to the committee on Monday as it claimed that some of the documents dated back to 2002 and would require recourse to JP Morgan for the full details.
The CBN’s Deputy Governor, Mr. Bayo Adelabu, who represented Emefiele, said the bank had long engaged JP Morgan in a discussion over the issue.
He stated, “According to JP Morgan’s policy, any information on a particular account exceeding seven years is archived.
“We are talking of information from 2002, which was done manually; so, getting this information is not easy.
“We can assure this committee that we will reopen discussion with JP Morgan to provide these statements from its archive.
“Some of the documents were filed manually from 2002, but we will do all it takes to provide the document to the committee.”
The conflicting responses again forced the committee to give a one-week ultimatum to the agencies to produce the documents.
Last week, the committee named many OPLs and OMLs, whose proceeds had not been accounted for by the affected government agencies.
Gwani had said, “In these times, a revenue collection gap of $1.75bn cannot be ignored.
“We need to get to the root of all collections of not only signature bonuses but also all other revenues involving acreages in Nigeria.
“The committee needs clear evidence that the signature bonuses of these blocks and many others have been paid in full and they are OPLs 214, 324, 320, 318, 256, 242, 223, 221, 245, 247, 322, 248, 249; totalling $271.8m, claimed to have been paid with the balance of $648.2m outstanding.
“The following are the signature bonuses from staggered payments. Most of the OPLs have been converted to OMLs, but we have chosen to list them in the state at which the debts and payments occurred.
“There is also need for evidence that signature bonuses have been paid for the following OPLs –OPLs 250, 291, 332, 276, 321, 323, 283, 315, 257, 279, 285, 286, 298, 471, 289, 284 and 236.
“Again, we need the evidence that these payments were made, into which account and the total is about $835m.”
In addition to not accounting for the oil revenues, the committee said it found out that some top officials were awarding licences in breach of the Petroleum Act.
Gwani pointed out that the law provided for only the President to award oil block licences.
However, he said this was flouted as officials, other than the President, awarded such deals.
He also stated that firms and individuals, who did not participate in the oil bid rounds, ended up getting the awards.
Besides, he disclosed that there were evidence that statutory fees, including application fees, royalties and rents, were not paid in some cases.
The committee, at the session, also summoned a former GMD of the NNPC, Mr. Funsho Kupolokun, to explain his role in the OPL/OML transactions.
Kupolokun served as the GMD of the NNPC during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.