By CHRIS EKEKE
Senate yesterday commended the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for taking action against those involved in the theft of petroleum products kept in the farm tanks of two oil companies and urged the corporation to take more radical measures to avoid recurrence.
NNPC had on March 17, disclosed that about 130 million litres of its oil stored at the Capital Oil and Gas Depot and over 30 million litres in MRS Limited Depot, all in Apapa area of Lagos, were missing.
NNPC consequently reported the missing litres of oil in the two farm tanks to the Directorate of State Service (DSS), the Economic Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and the relevant committees of National Assembly with oversight function on the corporation’s downstream operation to help recover the assets.
Following the directive of the senate, NNPC announced last Thursday the disengagement of officials linked with missing 130 million litres of petrol.
The retired staffs are: Esther Nnamdi-Ogbue, Managing Director, NNPC Retail Ltd; Alpha P. Mamza, Executive Director, Operations, NNPC Retail Ltd; and Oluwa Kayode Erinoso, Manager, Distribution, NNPC Retail Ltd. The NNPC also announced the redeployment of four officers to fill the vacant positions which arose as a result of the retirements.
The alleged illegal sale of about 130 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) belonging to NNPC by two firms, MRS Oil and Capital Oil and Gas was however valued at N17.439 billion.
In a statement by its spokesman, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, senate commended NNPC for responding to the motion moved during a plenary session by Senator Kabiru Marafa, chairman, Committee on Petroleum
Downstream Sector, which led to senate resolution directing the corporation on what to do.
“The legislative chamber advised that NNPC should go beyond the sacking and redeployment of a few officials but initiate a comprehensive restructuring of its operations which presently allow officials and other firms to appropriate national resources for their personal use, thereby contributing to the suffering of the people.
“The Senate is appalled that NNPC is not contemplating on doing something about the involvement of officials of the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) which actually played key roles in the missing products case.
“It is instructive that NNPC did not do anything on the case until the matter was raised on the floor of the Senate and the press picked the matter up from the motion.
“The unauthorised sale of 132 million litres of fuel kept in the storage tanks of MRS and Capital Oil
designated as strategic reserves is a grave occurrence.
“This probably is not the first time it is happening and NNPC must review its operations. It should in fact carry out a shakeup in the PPMC”, Abdullahi stated.
It would be recalled that following the Senate debate of the motion on the theft of the fuel, the NNPC sacked two senior officials and redeployed a few others. Its spokesman, Ndu Ughamadu said the sack and deployment were in line with the on-going reforms the corporation initiated to cleanse it of corruption.
The NNPC lost 130 million litres through a breach in its throughput transactions with MRS and Capital Oil.
However, MRS had returned the product it sold from the stock but Capital Oil is yet to refund the 82
million litres it sold. The missing fuel sold by Capital Oil is valued at N11 billion.
While Capital Oil insisted that NNPC owed it on past business transactions, the corporation vowed to recover the products, investigate the breach and set up new modalities to guide its engagements of throughput partners.