The House of Representatives on Wednesday ordered a fresh probe of the Refined Product Exchange Agreement contracts between the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and various trading companies.
Otherwise known as SWAP, the scheme involved the exchange of crude oil for refined petroleum products in which the NNPC gave out 445,000 barrels of crude per day.
A House resolution passed on Wednesday indicated that nine companies benefited from the contracts through the Pipelines Product Marketing Company, a subsidiary of the NNPC.
On the list of the beneficiaries were Duke Oil, Mercuria, Sahara Group, Aitero, Glencore, Taleveras Nigeria Limited, Entena Oil and Gas, Tranfigura and Ontario Oil and Gas.
A member from Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Michael Enyong, who moved a motion on the contracts, told the House that the investigation was to ensure that “revenue from the nation’s extractive industries are transparently managed in accordance with global best practices to enhance Nigeria’s revenue and economic fortunes.”
Quoting the 2009-2011/2012 reports of the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, Enyong said the loss of $8bn revenue was recorded due to “discrepancy between the value of the crude oil given out and the refined products delivered.”
For example, he informed the House that Sahara Group received 90,000 barrels per day through an arrangement with Societie Ivorienne De Refinage, while Aitero also received 90,000 barrels. He added that Ontario Oil received 30,000 barrels, among others.
The lawmaker’s motion partly read, “Further aware that while one barrel of crude equals to 159 litres, the 445,000 barrels awarded to the above companies per day, when multiplied by 159litres, will amount to 70,755,000 litres per day, whereas Nigeria consumes only 40 million litres per day.”
The lawmaker said there was evidence of revenue “leakages” and urged the House to set up an ad hoc committee to investigate the SWAP contracts.
However, there were attempts to stall the motion as some members kicked against it while others queried its relevance.
A member from Delta State, Mr. Leo Ogor, opposed the motion on the grounds that it was not listed on the Notice Paper for the week.
But, he was countered by a member from Lagos State, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, who advised the House to suspend the rule requiring the listing of the motion so that it could be heard.
“We are a transparent House and we have nothing to hide in this issue,” he said.
The Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, ruled in favour of Gbajabiamila and admitted the motion for hearing.
But, another member, Mr. Obinna Chidoka, raised an order reminding the House that the same matter had been investigated several times and reports produced and that all that was required was to refer to the existing reports.
Others observed that President Muhammadu Buhari was already in the process of probing the same contracts; hence the one contemplated by the House was not necessary.
However, Dogara ruled that the motion should be heard since it was for investigation,.
“At the end of the day, the investigation may even show that there were no malpractices in the award of the contracts. We can hear the motion and allow the investigation to be carried out,” the speaker ruled.
The motion was later passed in a majority voice vote.