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Senate Probes Diversion Of $1.05bn LNG Dividends

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Senate yesterday began probe on the diversion of $1.05 billion from the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas company (NLNG) dividends by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). 

The alleged diverted sum was said to have been withdrawn illegally by the NNPC to augment the shortfalls between the landing cost and pump price of Premium Motor Spirit ( petrol ).

The Senate said it is worried that there are series of complaints about the unlawful withdrawal of the NLNG dividends by the Corporation. 

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Gas), Senator Bassey Akpan (Akwa Ibom North East) yesterday raised a point of order on the matter and urged the lawmakers to probe it.

Recently,  the group managing director, NNPC,  Dr Maikanti Baru appeared before the Senate committee and confirmed that NNPC had only spent $ 1.05bn from the NLNG dividend account to defray the cost of “under- recovery” in the importation of fuel.

Baru’s defence was necessitated on the constitution of an ad-hoc committee by the Senate, chaired by the Majority Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, to investigate an alleged $3.5bn account kept by NNPC for petrol subsidy payment.

While the Senate ad-hoc committee led by Lawan was ongoing with the petrol subsidy probe, yesterday, the Senate mandated the committee on Gas to investigate the diversion of the NLNG dividends. Senate President, Bukola Saraki yesterday announced that the committee on gas “should go ahead with the probe.”

The Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan earlier noted that it was duplication of duty for the committee on gas to embark on fresh probe since an ad-hoc committee was earlier constituted to investigate an alleged diversion of $3.5bn account kept by NNPC for petrol subsidy payment.

But Saraki insisted that there was need for Senate to know how and why the NNPC was diverting the dividends from the NLNG illegally.

Also, Saraki in a press statement had admitted that he had received series of telephone calls on the issue by many concerned Nigerians and others who wanted to know the position of the Senate on the issues raised by the NNPC’s GMD before the Ahmad Lawan’s Ad-hoc Committee. 

It stated that the disclosure by the NNPC boss in response to enquiries by the Senate ad-hoc committee probing the issue of illegal payment of subsidy on fuel, called for further investigation by the Senate and also showed that as alleged in a motion moved earlier by Senate Minority Leader, Senator Biodun Olujimi, a lot of illegal and unapproved spending are going on in the petroleum corporation.

“Let me assure Nigerians that there will be no cover up. We are confident that the adhoc committee will do a thorough job. All the issues will be unearthed. That is why when the Senate set up investigative committees on issues, we want Nigerians to have confidence in us that we do not act because we want to embark on a wild goose chase. 

“There must be some serious issues to be looked into. The revelations by the NNPC’s GMD have justified the need for this investigation and they have shown that we are acting in good faith,” it stated.

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