The Senate has asked the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to refund N216 billion paid by the commission as subsidy in 2017.
The lawmakers unanimously agreed that the money be repaid to the Consolidated Revenue Fund, saying its expenditure is illegal.
This position was part of recommendations of the Senate committee on public accounts adopted by the Senate on Thursday.
The committee was in January mandated to investigate all subsidy payments made by the NNPC without recourse to the National Assembly.
The chairman of the committee, Matthew Uroghide, said the corporation in 2017 paid itself N216 billion but described it as operational cost.
“In 2017, NNPC imported 9.8 billion litres of PMS at the cost of $5.4 billion amounting to N1.672 trillion at the exchange rate of N305.
“In the previous years, all importers including the NNPC have collected subsidy for differentials, it is therefore curious that NNPC will, in the year 2017, describe this differentials as operating cost and a loss but will not demand for a refund,” he said.
Adopting the recommendations, the lawmakers warned NNPC to halt illegal payment of subsidy without appropriation henceforth.
The Senate asked the NNPC to make a formal request, through the president, for the inclusion of subsidy as an item in the 2018 budget to legalise the payment going forward.
It also urged the federal government to pay oil marketers the outstanding arrears of subsidy payment owed them prior to 2017.
The NNPC should refund the N216 billion for illegal payment of subsidy to the CRF account.
Adopting an additional prayer, the lawmakers mandated the Auditor-General of the Federation to carry out a specialised audit of NNPC over the last five years.
George Akume (Benue-APC) demanded that the NNPC should be punished for making illegal payments without appropriation.
Consequently, the Senate mandated its committee on public accounts to recommend appropriate sanctions for NNPC officials who carried out the illegal payment of subsidy.
Commenting on the report, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, noted that NNPC’s decision to pay itself subsidy is illegal.
“The only reason NNPC is the sole importer is because since there is no budget, no money is being appropriated to pay for the differentials. So, what NNPC is doing is just putting their hands in the thing and taking money from the sale of crude, it’s illegal.
“What they should do is that there should be a budget for fuel subsidy that both NNPC and any private individual will import, sell at a loss and go to PPPRA to collect their subsidy.
“This is what has been practised over many years. It is NNPC now taking the law into their hands and saying it is operational cost. It is not operational cost, it’s an illegal payment,” he said.