The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) yesterday, stated that it would take full measures, including inviting the Department of State Security (DSS) and Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) to recover about N11 billion worth of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) which it stored in the facilities of Capital Oil and Gas Limited, under a throughput arrangement, but which was allegedly sold without its permission by the firm.
But in a swift reaction, the Group Managing Director of Capital Oil and Gas Limited, Ifeanyi Uba told THISDAY last night that the NNPC allegation was misleading and mischievous and that the firm failed to tell the public that it also owed Capital Oil billions of Naira from their mutual business transactions.
The corporation stated in a statement from its Group General Manager, Public Affairs Division, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, in Abuja, that several committees, including an investigative committee had been set up to amongst other issues, identify external and internal parties to the illegal deal, as well as another to review its policy and guidelines for engaging in products through-put arrangements with third parties.
The review committee, it added would also establish control measures that could help avert similar incident in the future.
The statement explained that Mr. Henry Ikem-Obih, who is NNPC’s Chief Operating Officer, Downstream, gave details of how the infraction was discovered by it earlier in the year when NNPC had need to access the over 100 million litres of petrol stored at the facility of Capital Oil and Gas for NNPC Retail.
Ikem-Obih, according to the statement said: “We instructed the Nigerian Products Marketing Company (NPMC) a subsidiary of NNPC, to send additional trucks to those locations to move products for distribution aimed at meeting a supply shortfall we discovered in the market, but after days of not being able to access the terminals, we had to take a decision as NNPC management to invite auditors and inspectors to go and do a physical check on the inventories.”
He noted that the auditor’s visit revealed that there was no molecule of product for the NNPC to evacuate, noting that the infraction by Capital Oil was a clear violation of existing through-put contract which prohibits the owners of the facilities from tampering with the volumes in their custody without express permission of NNPC.
Ikem-Obih further explained that the NNPC was mute over the infraction until the Senate uncovered it, but that it had informed relevant agencies of the government about the development.
He said so far, not much progress had been achieved with Capital Oil Gas which was yet to return 82 million litres of petrol, valued at N11 billion, out of over 100 million litres which it took.
He said the two committees set up would evaluate the roles played by some of its staff in the illegal product evacuation and review its entire through-put policy in order to align it with global best practices.
As part of efforts to forestall a repeat of similar occurrence in the future, Ikem-Obih stated that a disciplinary committee was already investigating the level of involvement of its staff with a view to applying appropriate sanctions as a deterrence measure.
On possible punitive measures to be meted out to culpable staff and erring firms, he also said it would be better to allow the committees decide that in line with existing laws and regulations.
He also added that the product diversion would not affect the corporation petrol supply schedule, adding that the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Dr Maikanti Baru, had approved an increase in importation of petrol to make up for the shortfall.
But the GMD of Capital Oil insisted that it is normal for parties in businesses to owe each other in business relationship and that if reconciliation is carried out with NNPC, the firm will find out that there may be very little or nothing for Capital Oil to pay them.
Uba buttressed his point by alleging that in the last four months, the NNPC had borrowed products running into millions of litres from Capital Oil.
“Ask the NNPC if they do not also owe Capital Oil. They should stop trying to use the media to kill me. We have an ongoing relationship and we need to sit down and reconcile our accounts,” remarked the Capital Oil boss.