Constitutional lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, on Thursday called on the Federal Government to recover over $100 billion royalties multi-national oil companies failed to remit to the Federation Accounts since 2014.
Mr Falana who spoke at the 40th anniversary celebration of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) in Abuja also alleged that crude oil valued at over $12.7 billion was stolen from the country between 2011 and 2014.
The lawyer lamented the huge losses to the country and asked the oil workers’ union to prevail on the anti-graft agencies, especially the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to probe these allegations with a view to tracing the funds and bringing the culprits to book.
He said the information obtained from the data on crude oil theft by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), would soon be made available to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and other interest groups.
“The NIMASA report revealed the value of money Nigeria lost from stolen oil at the point of discharge in one port at about $12.7billion,” Mr Falana said.
He said since 2014, despite identifying the multi-national oil and shipping companies involved in the theft, the federal government has refused to take steps to recover the stolen money.
Besides, Mr Falana urged PENGASSAN and its affiliates, the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to launch an independent investigation into the allegations.
Such investigations, he noted, would help track the volume of crude oil stolen from the country and discharged at ports in the United States, India, China, France and Britain.
He recalled similar losses the country suffered through the Halliburton scandal, saying the oil workers’ have a big role to play in ensuring the speedy recovery of the funds, “particularly at a time the country is looking for money to fund infrastructural development”.
Meanwhile, at the consultative forum on the medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) and fiscal strategy paper (FSP) 2019-2021 on Thursday in Abuja, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoma, said the leaner N8.6 trillion budget in 2019 was due to low revenue projections for the year.
Mr Udoma told members of the organised private sector, civil society groups and the media government was planning to cut down on the level of borrowing in the budget from N1.6trillion in 2018 to N1.5 trillion, while the deficit component would equally be reduced from N1.9 trillion in 2018 to N1.6 trillion.
The Group Managing Director, NNPC, Maikanti Baru, in his speech underlined the importance of the continued collaboration between PENGASSAN and the other oil workers’ unions with the corporation.
Mr Baru noted the consistent involvement of PENGASSAN and other oil workers in the formulation of industry policies, particularly their recent inputs to the draft Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) as well as their advocacy for a robust local content development.
“Your roles are not only complementary to the effort to grow a virile and productive economy for the country, but they go a long way to demonstrate the high interest you have exhibited in the service of the industry and the nation. I can only add that you keep up your good work,” Mr Baru said.