There are strong indications that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has begun a fresh discreet investigation into the activities of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
Saturday PUNCH’s investigations revealed that preliminary findings of the investigation would lead to the invitation of former group managing directors of the corporation next month.
It was gathered on Friday that the commission was probing the former group managing directors over alleged loss of government revenues during their tenures.
It was learnt that all the ex-heads of the NNPC between 2009 and 2015 might be summoned to make some clarifications pertaining to their tenure in the corporation.
The group managing directors during the period are Dr. Mohammed Barkindo (2009-2010); Alhaji Shehu Ladan (April – May 2010); Mr. Austen Oniwon (2010-2012); Andrew Yakubu (2012-2014) and Mr. Joseph Dawha (August 2014 –2015).
An operative of the commission, who confided in Saturday PUNCH, said that as of now, none of the former group managing directors had been indicted, but their explanations would be needed on some transactions by the corporation during their tenure.
He also said that as part of the investigations, the EFCC had raided the residence of a former head of one of the NNPC’s subsidiaries.
According to the source, the commission recovered an undisclosed sum of money from the man.
Investigations revealed that the man’s house was raided by the EFCC’s operatives with intelligence from the Department of State Security.
The source said that the Presidency ordered the raid as part of the efforts to recover funds believed to have been diverted.
The source did not disclose the total amount of money involved in the raid.
The source stated, “You know that there is collaboration between the agencies in the ongoing efforts to recover some of these funds from these people.
“It was the DSS that got the intelligence report that some amount of money was being kept in the residence of a former head of an NNPC subsidiary.
“And the operation was partly successful because they recovered some funds from the residence of the man. I don’t have the information of how much was recovered from the man.
“All the former group managing directors of the NNPC will be invited by the EFCC next month. They need to make some clarifications on their tenure. It is their explanations that will determine, if they will be detained or not.”
It was further gathered that several top executives of the NNPC, who served under the previous administration, had been penciled down for probe.
Efforts to get the Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, were not successful as calls to his mobile telephone did not connect.
It will be recalled that the EFCC and the DSS had last year begun investigations into how the Federal Government was allegedly short-changed by the NNPC in swapping crude for refined products.
The Federal Government was said to be losing money through opaque contracts in which crude oil worth billions of dollars was given to traders in exchange for refined imports.
The Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative was reported to have said there was a revenue loss of at least $600m due to a discrepancy between the value of the crude and the products delivered. The figure was taken from its 2009-2011 and 2012 audits of the oil and gas industry.
New c’ttee may revisit Ribadu’s panel report
Also there are indications that the Federal Government may make use of some aspects of the report of Nuhu Ribadu-led Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force set up by the former President Goodluck Jonathan administration.
A source in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, who confided in Saturday PUNCH on Friday, said that President Muhammadu Buhari would set up a committee to look at the report of the Ribadu committee, which was set up in 2012.
The source stated that the present administration would not adopt the whole report, but only use the useful aspects of the report.
“Although the administration that set up the task force was not serious with its report, the present government will look at it. I must add that many more evils have occurred since the task force submitted its report in November 2012,” he said.
The committee, which submitted its report on November, 2012, had detailed how the Nigerian government and the NNPC treated huge oil revenues accruing to the federation as a reserve of money that could be used for illicit purposes devoid of accountability.
According to the report, the NNPC spent funds on extra-budgetary purposes such as the acquisition of a N2.23bn chopper for the President and sponsorship of the World Cup.
The committee had also discovered that in a brazen misuse of public funds, the NNPC gave out N700.5m in loan to Sao Tome & Principe based on instruction from the Presidency.
The NNPC was reported to have underwritten a N521m expenses incurred by the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources and spent N250m on court cases involving the ministry.
C’ttee’ll get its terms of reference – Presidency
Commenting on the Ribadu report, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said, “When a committee is set up to carry out a probe, it will be given terms of reference.”
Adesina was asked if the President would make use of the Ribadu panel report when he set up a committee to probe the oil sector.
Nothing wrong with NNPC probe—Afenifere
Meanwhile, the spokesman for the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, has said the government should concentrate on governance.
He said, “There is nothing wrong with probing any agency of government. It is part of the accountability process. The agencies responsible for such probes should do their work while the presidency concentrates on governance.”