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House to unravel alleged 48m crude oil theft

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By Timothy Akintola

Nigeria reportedly losing over 470,000 barrels of crude oil every month.

In recent years, Nigeria has witnessed an increase in the cases of oil theft. The NNPC earlier reported that the country was losing about 470,000 barrels of crude oil every month. There has been evident micro and macro impacts, as over $3.3 billion has been lost due to this circumstance. Nigeria’s House of Representatives have however promised to unravel the details of the alleged theft and illegal sale of about 48 million barrels of crude oil which resulted in the loss of about $2.4 billion. This resolution was reached on Thursday by the members of the House Ad-hoc committee which was led by Rep. Mark Gbillah.

Gbillah ascertained that the committee was working to investigate the crude oil sales from year 2014 till date, as well as the whistleblower information & recoveries, and the expenditures of these recoveries. He pointed out that the committee had recordings and photographs of the meetings, documentation that indicate e-mail trails and bank statements of influential figures in relation to this case. The committee further stated that some of the key informants had been threatened and thus appealed to Nigerians and the media to be more objective in regards to this issue and provide needed support to the committee.

Inauguration is a clear indication of the House’s transparency.

He indicated that the decision to inaugurate this committee evidently showed the House’s transparency in regards to investigating the truth of this situation. Rep. Gbillah again noted that one of the allegations was made by a whistleblower, who alleged that the country’s crude oil in China was being diverted and sold by certain governmental figures in the country’s oil cooperation. The whistleblower also included that the cohorts who had abetted these governmental figures were either in the country’s security agencies or other positions of authority in the country.

With the committee taking without levity, issues of great allegations, the House owed it to Nigerians to overtly unravel the facts of this case in line with the constitution before making further assertions. He said that obviously, the committee would have to arrive at a conclusion, making provisions for substantive report to be recorded and determine the legitimacy of this matter. He however added that those who made these allegations would first be interviewed. Due to the threats faced by some of these witnesses, Gbillah said that they would have to travel out to countries like the United States and China for the interviews.

President Buhari’s whistleblowing policy applauded, despite inefficiency.

Continuing on he emphasized that this case was not one to be handled with levity by the House, as the leadership in the House was in total support of investigating the truth of this issue. This, he noted was a clear indication that the House’s seriousness in handling cases concerning the commonwealth of the country. Importantly, he disclosed that an American citizen who was allegedly privy to this situation was presently at the Ikoyi prison over infractions committed in the country. He however insinuated that the crimes leveled against him was not far off that of this particular situation.

He ascertained that his incarceration was for an important reason, as no country would condone illegalities from its nationals and as such, his allegations were not unconnected with the revelations as to this matter. He stated that there were other whistleblowers who were in hiding but were constantly in touch with the committee. He applauded President Buhari’s administration for its efforts at enacting the whistleblowing policy but admitted that the unsuccessful efforts of the policy had been as a result of the lack of protection for whistleblowers.

Gbillah appeals to Nigerians to support committee’s investigation.

The Committee Chairman however appealed to international partners of Nigeria, the United States and government of China and Mexico to collaborate with the committee in obtaining important fact to help this issue such as the location of these crude oil sales, those involved, as well as the abetters involved. Upon indicating the existence of evidences tying top figures to this case, he appealed with Nigerians to further support the committee’s efforts at investigating this case.

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