House of Reps rejects report clearing Alison-Madueke of shady oil deals

The House of Representatives on Tuesday shoved aside the report of an ad-hoc committee which probed the alleged involvement of the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, in shady oil deals.

The report was compiled by the Muraina Ajibola-led ad-hoc committee and contains three recommendations which didn’t see any wrongdoing by the former minister.

The House had last year set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the alleged shady deals involving the former minister, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited; and Septa Energy Limited, with respect to the farm-out or allocation of oil mining leases OML 4, 26, 30, 34, 38, 41 and 42.

The investigation was aimed at uncovering truth about the alleged shady deals involving the minister, NNPC, NPDC, Shell, Atlantic Energy, Septa Energy Limited and any other entity with respect to the farm-out or allocation of leases in question.

The said leases were sold by Shell and its partner - Eni and Total - to Seplat Development Company Limited (OMLs 4, 38 and 41); Neconde Energy Limited (OML 42), ND Western Nigeria Limited (OML 34), Elcrest (OML 40) and Heritage Oil (OML 30) between 2010 and 2013 under a tender process that was widely reported by local papers, and were later approved by Alison-Madueke as stipulated under the Petroleum Act.

After the sale of the oil blocks, NNPC transferred its stake in the leases to its exploration and production subsidiary, NPDC, which subsequently became the operator of OMLs 42, 26, 30 and 42 and in turn, entered into a Strategic Alliance Agreement (SAA) with Atlantic Energy and Septa Energy to provide funding for the operation of the four blocks. Seplat, on the other hand, retained operatorship of its oil leases.

The SAA has been widely criticised for not passing through a tender process before Atlantic Energy and Septa were appointed funding partners for the oil blocks.

When the SAA was subjected to thorough scrutiny last year by the Senate Committee on Finance, Atlantic Energy was stopped by the minister from lifting crude oil in lieu of its investment in the blocks, while Mr. Abiye Membere, former Managing Director of NPDC and later Group Executive Director, E&P in NNPC, was relieved of his post.

However, the legislators on Tuesday blocked moves to consider the recommendation of the report, when it was announced by the presiding Deputy Speaker, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha.

On first attempt, Ihedioha put the question as to whether the House should consider the report but was met with a nay vote out-sounding the ayes.

Determined to achieve a consensus and clarity on the matter, Ihedioha again put the question and there was a resounding nay, rejecting the report.

The three recommendations in no way met the expectations of several lawmakers who had hoped for an indictment of the former minister known for the controversial manner in which she ran the ministry during the reign of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

The recommendations include:
“That operators in the industry should deliberately encourage openness/transparency in their operations; “ That companies involved in the petroleum industry should be required to ensure timely dissemination of information regarding their transactions, especially those involving government agencies and corporations as this would forestall suspicions and sentiments of having been cheated that are always bound to arise in circumstances where a section of the relevant stakeholders in the industry are left in doubt as to transactions in the industry;

“That a clean bill of health be given to all the parties involved in this transaction as the entire transaction conformed to all the applicable laws.
Credit: Muhammad Bello/ThisDay