Some “concerned staff” members of NNPC Retail, a downstream arm of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), have pointed out some perceived gaps in the ongoing House of Representatives investigations of the NNPCL-OVH deal.
They urged the Committee on Monitoring and Evaluation of the House of Representatives to ensure fairness and thorough investigation of the controversial deal.
Their letter dated 25 September, which was addressed to the chairman of the House Committee, was signed on their behalf by Mohammed Muazuo.
The letter is titled, ‘The circumstances surrounding the acquisition of OVH Energy by the NNPC Ltd’.
“We write to appeal for your urgent intervention so as to prevent the subversion of justice, fairness and transparency in the investigation of the above subject matter by the Ad-hoc Committee set up by the Nigerian House of Representatives.
“The Committee has carried out the on-the-spot assessment of some of the assets of OVH Energy acquired by NNPC Limited in Lagos.
“It might interest you to know that before the on-the-spot assessment exercise was carried out by the Committee, the Committee wrote to the MD, NNPC Retail Ltd requesting information and documents. But the request by the Committee was not met by the MD, NNPC Retail Ltd,” the letter read in part.
The appeal comes against the backdrop of the secret deals surrounding the acquisition of the company.
Acquisition of OVH by NNPC Limited
In October last year, the NNPCL acquired OVH Energy Marketing Limited’s downstream assets. By this acquisition, OVH Energy would be merged with NNPC Retail, a subsidiary of NNPC Limited.
The assets acquired from the company, which operates Oando filling stations, also include a reception jetty with 240,000 metric tonnes monthly capacity and eight liquefied petroleum gas plants, three lube blending plants, three aviation depots, and 12 warehouses.
But in June, PREMIUM TIMES’ investigation on the acquisition exposed the secret deals and the complicated ownership structure that left managerial control of NNPC Retail in the hands of OVH Energy Marketing.
The report also exposed how OVH Energy Marketing only had about 94 stations and how over 100 stations were leased.
In addition, the report highlighted how Huub Stoksman, an expatriate and former Chief Executive Officer of OVH Energy, emerged as the new Managing Director of NNPC Retail, a development that further compounded the structure of NNPC Retail.
This newspaper also found out that the acquisition of OVH Energy had turned NNPC Retail into a toxic workspace, with officials of the former taking over the latter’s running.
In July, the House of Representatives, following the adoption of a motion moved by Miriam Onuoha (APC, Imo), directed the NNPCL to suspend the OVH acquisition pending an investigation by its committee.
Following Ms Onuoha’s presentation, the House resolved to set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the allegations raised in the motion.
However, in September the House commenced an investigation into the controversial deal.
The ad-hoc committee requested the NNPCL to furnish it with information about “registration documents/history from CAC for OVH, Nueoil, and NNPC Retail Limited (NRL), Board Resolution of NNPCL on purchase of OVH, Audited Financial Statement and Management Accounts from 2015 to Date OVH, Nueoil, NRL and NNPCL” and the “payroll from 2015 to date for NRL and OVH, Board Resolution of NRL/CHQ for movement of head office to Lagos and evidence of Tax Payments for NRL and OVH from 2015 to date.”
The committee also requested documents on all financial transactions associated with the acquisition, including payment records and fund transfers.
Gaps in investigation
Meanwhile, the NNPC Retail ‘concerned staff’, in their letter noted that the request by the committee was not met.
Also, the letter said the following was not done during the investigation:
“The process of the acquisition was not investigated. The agreement (which is the foundation for investigation) relating to the acquisition of the OVH assets by NNPC Ltd was not given to the Committee.
“The Committee did not visit nor sighted any document to ascertain the actual number of filling stations, LPG Plants and Warehouses owned by OVH and acquired by NNPC Ltd.”
It said the valuation report from a reputable valuer on OVH assets was not given to the Committee for review by NNPC Ltd.
“The Audited financial account of OVH Energy, NNPC Ltd and NNPC Retail Ltd for three years (2019, 2020 and 2021) was not given to the Committee for review.
“The Petitioners or their representatives were not invited nor interacted with by the House Ad-hoc Committee during the investigation period.
“The legality of the Managing Director, (Hubb Stokman) NNPC Retail Ltd to work in Nigeria was not investigated or interrogated by the Committee.
“The House Ad-hoc Committee we are informed is ready to present its report to the general house without carrying out, reviewing or investigating the above-listed positions.”
It said based on the above, “We pray your urgent intervention to ensure the Committee does not present the report they have now as it will amount to biasedness, injustice, unfairness, marginalization, and lack of transparency.
“You appeal to the Committee to carry out a detailed investigation on the above matter.
“To prevent the Nigerian House of Representatives from losing its high-earned reputation and confidence reposed on them by Nigerians as this matter is in the public domain and Nigerians are watching.
“Sir, your kind consideration of our Prayers will be highly appreciated, as your quick intervention will save the looming crisis in the downstream sector of the oil and gas industry, because of serious staff agitation presently ongoing in NNPC Retail Ltd that can result in ugly situations that could cause some embarrassment to the present government that believes in Transparency, Equity Justice, Fairness, Unbiasedness and all Inclusiveness.
“While praying that the Almighty God shall continue to give you the grace, wisdom, God health and direction in carrying out your duties for the benefit of mankind and to the glory of his holy name,” the letter reads.
The Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPC, Mele Kyari, had said the acquisition of OVH Energy Marketing Limited, was done in compliance with the CAMA Act which provides the process for merger and acquisition of equity.
My Kyari, while appearing before the House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating the acquisition in September, said the NNPC Limited now operates like a private limited liability company and entered the commercial relationship with OVH to take over market shares in the downstream petroleum market shares.
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