Govt asks EFCC to probe fraud in fuel imports

efccAS accusations of fraud in the petroleum products importation processes mount, the Federal Government has invited the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) to investigate the allegations and unmask possible culprits.

The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, who stated this in Abuja, via a memo to the Chairman of the Commission, Ibrahim Lamorde, listed the brief of the EFCC to include revision of all payments made in respect of subsidies on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and kerosene and to take necessary steps to prosecute any incidence of malfeasance, fraud, over-invoicing and related illegalities in an open and transparent manner.

She disclosed that a unit to be headed by an independent auditor has been set up within her office to review KPMG’s and other audit reports on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and other parastatals with a view to beginning the implementation of their findings, ensuring full probity and value for money.

The memo also stated: “I am empanelling another unit in my office to begin a comprehensive review of the management and controls within all parastatals in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, including but not limited to the NNPC, PPPRA and DPR. Accordingly, I expect in 30 days to enable us take further action in reforming management, personnel, and other practices and procedures in parastatals within the ministry. It should be noted that this process has already begun in PPPRA and DPR where management changes and reforms are beginning to yield desirable results.”

She said she would meet with the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives in the next few weeks to seek cooperation on how to quicken the process of passing the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law.

Alison-Madueke assured that all hands were on deck to ensure full probity and accountability in the oil industry.

In the meantime, the  refusal of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to endorse the deregulation policy was responsible for the breakdown of negotiations with government, has learnt. The Guardian

Also, some unions within both the NLC and Trade Union Congress (TUC) had started complaining about the huge financial burden that the protests imposed on their lean purses.

A source close to the negotiations told The Guardian in Abuja yesterday that while government was willing to revert to N65 a litre of petrol, modalities to be adopted for the deregulation policy when it takes effect in April remained contentious.

The TUC had long endorsed the policy and it again unequivocally reiterated its stance but on this occasion, it called for a phased deregulation of the downstream of the oil and gas sector.

TUC contended that Nigerians could not absorb the full effects of deregulation, saying a gradual withdrawal of subsidy would minimise the negative effects on workers.

The source said government’s argument for a complete removal of petrol subsidy was hinged on the need to deregulate the downstream oil sector, which could not be done half way. But the TUC, while agreeing with government on the need to fully deregulate the sector, based its argument on the reality that workers would find it hard to absorb the impact if it was done in a swoop or once and for all.

On the other hand, NLC continued to doubt the existence of subsidy in the first place. It stated that government has not only been unconvincing in its presentations justifying deregulation but data and experiences in other oil producing countries presupposed the fact that petrol ought to be cheaper in Nigeria. It is also convinced that government is treating inefficiency and corruption in the industry with kid gloves.

The NLC also insisted that smuggling and false monetary claims for imported petrol coupled with the non-refurbishing and building of new refineries were some of the inefficiencies driving up the prices and that government ought to have checkmated such excesses but rather chose to pass the burden to ordinary Nigerians.

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