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Reps probe alleged $72 million diversion, summon AGIP, NNPC, others

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The House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions has summoned the managing director and senior management staff of Nigeria AGIP Oil Company (NAOC) in response to a petition alleging the diversion of $72 million.

The complaint was raised by De Coon Service Limited (DSL), a service company, against AGIP and several high-ranking officials.

The petition includes allegations against Mele Kyari, group chief executive officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), Ali Zara, Ismailia Mohammed, and Simbi Wabote, former executive secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).

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DSL claims that AGIP, in collaboration with these individuals, fraudulently withheld and diverted over $72 million owed to the company.

In a letter of summons issued on June 10, 2024, and signed by the committee chairman, the parties are required to appear before the committee on June 20, 2024, with a soft copy and 10 hard copies of their brief on the matter.

The letter states, “Whereas the above-named petition is now pending before this committee and the particulars aforesaid are hereby attached. And whereas the petition has been assigned to be heard by the committee for determination, you are hereby required to note Section 88 and 89(C) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and appear in person before this committee on Thursday, June 20, 2024, at 2.00 pm or so soon thereafter as the committee shall direct.”

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The directive specifically lists the NAOC managing director, division manager (strategic procurement), four senior managers, and two retired staff members.

It also summoned six others, and two retired staff of the NNPC. Additionally, executives from Oandlo Limited, Total E&P, the Nigeria Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, and officials from the Ministry of Petroleum Resources are required to attend.

Joshua Abah, executive director of the Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency, elaborated on the allegations in the petition dated April 24, 2024.

He explained that DSL executed a contract with NAOC for general maintenance of gas/diesel generators from 2010 to 2018, during which NAOC allegedly withheld over $22 million owed to DSL, despite receiving cash calls from its JV partners.

“NAOC converted the cash calls to themselves in total breach and defiance of the agreement to pay DSL upon conclusion of the contract and receipt of the cash calls from its Joint Venture partners,” Abah stated.

Further complicating the issue, DSL won a replacement contract in 2014, but NAOC delayed its award until 2018, prompting DSL to demand a reconciliation meeting to settle outstanding bills.

NAOC, however, refused, leading DSL to report the situation to NCDMB and the NNPC Upstream Investment Management Services (NUIMS), the Investment management arm of the NNPC.

Abah accused NUIMS officers of colluding with NAOC to commence the replacement contract without resolving the financial discrepancies.

The petitioners also highlighted that NAOC rigged tender processes for contracts, awarding them to RCE Overseas Ltd, which was not the lowest bidder, in clear violation of the PPA 2007. The total amount owed now exceeds $70 million, with DSL’s rental equipment still in NAOC’s possession.

DSL urged federal lawmakers to implement the recommendations of NNPC’s Governance, Risk, and Compliance, NAPIMS, and NCDMB reports and direct NAOC to pay all debts owed to DSL, potentially in agreed instalments.

The House Committee’s intervention aims to address these allegations and ensure accountability within the sector.