27 March 2014

Nigeria: Reps Summon Diezani Over Alleged Crude Swap Scam

A Joint House of Representatives Committee has summoned the petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke over a crude swap scam contained in the report of the Swiss-based Berne Declaration.

House Committees on Petroleum Resources (Downstream and Upstream) and Judiciary presently probing the report have taken testimonies from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), oil traders - Ontario, Aiteo, Vitol, Mercuria Energy and Eterna Oil and Gas, all indicted in the report.

The report entitled: "Swiss traders' opaque deals in Nigeria" alleged the under-supply of refined petroleum product by some Swiss oil traders in connivance with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Chairman, House Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) and lead chairman of the Joint Committee, Muraina Ajibola, at the hearing told committee members that the petroleum minister had failed to appear before the committee despite a formal summon.

"We will give her a date to appear before us and that will be the last," Ajibola said.

Earlier, Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) had in its report submitted to the House Joint Committee accused four oil traders of under-delivering 500,075,239.3 litres of products worth $8billion in the year 2011.

They are Trafigura (173,786,600 litres); Vitol (654,440.7 litres); Taleveras (152,308,878 litres); Aiteo Nigeria Limited (193,046,590 litres) and Ontario Oil and Gas (180,278,732 litres).

In a submission by the MD/CEO, Ontario Oil and Gas Limited, Ada Ugo-Ngadi, she argued that the selection of buyers of Nigerian crude was done on a transparent and competitive basis.

Ugo-Ngadi said: "Ontario's swap arrangement with NNPC/PPMC is in line with international standard, transparent and complies with all audit requirements. It is transparent and conducted in line with global best practice.

"The publication (Berne Declaration) is a figment of the writers' imagination to distract Nigerians and cause distrust of indigenous oil companies. It is baseless, faulty and deserves no serious attention."

Meanwhile, majority of members of the House yesterday rejected an attempt to change Nigeria's motto from "Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress" to "Justice and Equity, Peace and Progress".

The failed change was contained in a bill sponsored by Hon Chris Azubogu (APGA, Anambra), who said it was intended to create a strong political will in Nigerian leaders to focus on attaining political objectives.

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