The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation was further put on the spotlight of corruption allegations on Wednesday with a challenge from a House of Representatives committee to an anti-corruption agency to investigate the corporation for serious graft.
In a rare and daring move, the House committee on Anti-corruption, National Ethics and Values, requested the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission(ICPC) to go after the powerful government-owed oil company, and bring its officials to justice for several corruption crimes.
“Your commission therefore should go after the NNPC in the war against corruption, you should design a system that will curb corruption in NNPC, this will help the country and Nigerians will see that ICPC is working,” Chairman of the House committee on Anti Corruption, James Falake(ACN,Lagos State), told ICPC officials at a budget defence session today.
The charge seemed timely, coinciding with series of damning revelations about the controversial behemoth that has already been indicted for corruption by the renowned audit consultancy, KPMG, as exclusively published by Premium Times last week.
Amongst several other revelations, the auditors stated that between 2007 and 2009, the NNPC over-deducted funds in subsidy claims to the tune of N28.5bn. The report, requested for by the senate, has been hidden from Nigerians and even the lawmakers.
In a separate public hearing, the senate joint committee investigating the management of oil subsidies has in the past weeks exposed clearly fraudulent discrepancies in the management of oil and billions of funds earmarked for subsidies.
After media reports reflecting the final session of the hearing on Monday, in which the corporation’s Group Managing Director, Austen Oniwon, failed to account for 65,000 barrels of oil daily, the company’s spokesperson, Levi Ajuonuma, circulated a rebuttal on Tuesday.
Mr. Ajuonuma said the media reports were huge “misrepresentations” of facts.
At his committee’s session today, Mr Falake urged the ICPC to use the NNPC case to redeem itself of years of lackluster performance.
“Nigerians need to know more about the effectiveness of the ICPC in the war against corruption,” he said. “We are aware today that NNPC put the barrels of oil per day at 2.48million, nobody knows about the number of unaccounted barrels and it is generally believed that it is more.
“Even President Goodluck Jonathan does not know the correct figures of barrels of oil that Nigeria is producing on daily basis. He, like any other person relies on the figures given by the NNPC.