$17bn stolen crude: FG to file criminal charge against IOCs

  • allays fear of fuel pump price increase

Some International Oil Companies involved in an alleged export of $17bn worth of Nigerian undeclared crude and gas resources between 2011 and 2014 may soon be dragged before a competent court of law to explain their roles in the scandal.

Nigeria’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, stated this while appearing before an ad hoc committee of the House of Representatives in Abuja on Tuesday, April 11.

He said his office was investigating the level of involvement of the firms to establish concrete evidence to sustain the criminal charges before proceeding to court. “Nine civil litigations are already instituted in Lagos and Abuja against some IOCs and other oil firms primarily to recover the government’s undeclared crude and gas resources,” Malami stated.

The minister clarified that though the period under investigation preceded the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, the government felt compelled to pursue the cases with a view to making the recoveries for the collective good of the country.

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He also admitted that it was former President Goodluck Jonathan, under whose regime, the alleged theft took place, who initiated the process for the civil litigation in 2013.

Meanwhile, the federal government has insisted that the increase in the Bridging Cost component of the pricing template has been absorbed by efficiencies in the sector and savings from ship lightering expenses, and therefore will not result in pump price essing newsmen in Abuja, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, disclosed that the Federal Government is committed to looking inwards and ensuring that Nigerians and the general public do not pay more from where inefficiencies can be achieved.

There are fears that with the marginal increase in freight rate for transporters, the Federal Government may have also kick-started the process of hiking the pump price of petrol, with the product likely to sell between N147 and N150 per litre.

To satisfy the yearnings of the aggrieved Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) for an increase in transporters’ margin, the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru last week promised to increase the bridging claims for the tanker drivers from the present N6 per litre, thereby indirectly setting machinery in motion for a possible hike in the price of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS.

The Petroleum Tanker Drivers, PTD, branch of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, on Monday, evening suspended their nationwide indefinite strike, following Federal Government’s approval of bridging cost allowance from N6.20 to N7.20.

Kachikwu, who was represented by his Technical Assistant on Downstream and Infrastructure, Mrs. Brenda Ataga, explained that the issue of the increase in the pricing template was an efficiency issue which ensured that the review did not translate to a change in the price of PMS.