The House of Representatives raised the alarm on Thursday that an alleged plan to sell of an oil vessel, M.T. Tuma, by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, could leave the country with a loss of over $70m.
According to the House, the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company, a subsidiary of NNPC, purchased the vessel for the “purpose of haulage of petroleum products.”
However, a motion sponsored by a lawmaker, Mr. Kamil Akinlabi, indicated that M.T. Tuma had become a burden on the NNPC, costing millions of dollars to maintain.
He recalled that the ship was abandoned in Brazil in 2007 after it was sent for repairs “with a resultant resurgence cost of over $5m.”
Akinlabi added, “M.T. Tuma found her way into the shores of this country sometime in May 2012 with the job not done or poorly done, despite the fact that the NNPC had spent about $60m arising from demurrage, port charges, fines and other related charges in Brazil.
“Several contracts were awarded for the maintenance of the said vessel with money paid out to various companies without any work done. Tuma is now lying idle on the high seas and not in good condition to perform any function after the NNPC had spent at least $60m of tax payers’ money.
“The NNPC management/PPMC is by now considering a total disposal of the ship, which will lead to a total loss exceeding $70m.”
The House unanimously passed the motion and directed its Joint Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) to “investigate the prolonged stay of the ship in Brazil, the role of individuals and companies connected and report back to the House within six weeks.”
In a separate resolution, lawmakers also mandated the Committee on Drugs/Narcotics and Financial Crimes to investigate the status of all seized and sold assets by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The sponsor of the motion, Mr. Toby Okechukwu, told the House that though the EFCC seized many assets from people it investigated and prosecuted, Nigerians hardly knew what happened to the assets.
He said in 2008, an Asset Forfeiture Unit was set up by the agency and was charged with the responsibility of ensuring that all assets forfeited to the government were verified.
“Between 2003 and 2010, the EFCC had confiscated over 200 mansions through 46 forfeiture of court orders.
“These landed properties and business concerns, which were estimated to be over N2tn, included billions of naira in bank accounts, shares in blue chip companies, exotic vehicles, fuel stations, hotels, warehouses, shopping malls, schools, bakeries, estates, telecommunications companies, and radio stations in and out side Nigeria.”
The Minority Whip, Mr. Samson Osagie, supported the motion and expressed concern that nobody was beaming the searchlight on the EFCC.
“The EFCC itself must be scrutinised from time-to-time to be accountable in the manner it manages its affairs,” he said.