Group to petition EFCC over $260m Usan oilfield contracts

09 February 2016, Lagos – A group, which identified itself as Nigerian Content Front (NCF) has threatened to drag the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) if the $260 million contracts in ExxonMobil’s Usan Project is not investigated within 14 days.

 

Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, Nigeria's minister of state for Petroleum Resources.

Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, Nigeria’s Minister of state for Petroleum and GMD, NNPC.

In an open letter signed by the President-General, High Chief Ebikabowei Ezoukumor and the Secretary, Mr. Young Tari, the group commended President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption efforts, stressing that since the appointment of  Dr. Ibe Kachikwu as the Group Managing Director of NNPC and his promotion to Minister of State, the era of impunity is over both in the NNPC and the entire oil industry.

The Bayelsa-based group however noted in the letter addressed to President Buhari that Kachikwu’s efforts to sanitise the NNPC would be incomplete without a probe on the activities of NAPIMS in view of its sensitive role in the industry.

“Our concern stems from NAPIMS’ alleged fraudulent legacy of subverting due process in the award of contracts, in connivance with the multinational companies, and in flagrant violation of the laws of Nigeria. We wish to draw His Excellency’s attention to the allegation of fraud in the $260 million contract in Usan oil field, which is operated by ExxonMobil’s Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited.

“We wish to state without fear of contradiction that if this allegation is proved beyond reasonable doubt, it will be clearly evident that the current management of NAPIMS has inherited this fraudulent legacy and is determined to build on it, contrary to your change mantra. We wish to clarify that we are not holding brief for anyone; neither are we insinuating that someone is guilty, until a thorough investigation is concluded,” the group explained.

According to the group, it is alarmed over the allegation because the Usan Project as originally conceived by Total Upstream Nigeria Limited (TUPNI) has a lot of positive implications for Nigerian Content.

“We are worried to note that without throwing open the contracts for bidders, NAPIMS’ previous management allegedly appointed four companies to execute $260 million contracts at Usan field, without subjecting the contracts to tenders or obtaining any approval from the NNPC Board,” the group added.

It also listed the beneficiaries of the disputed contracts to include GMT Energy Resources Limited, UTM Dredging Limited, Temile Development Company Nigeria Limited and Seabulk Offshore Operations Nigeria Limited.

“Sir, in negation of your anti-corruption stance, NAPIMS allegedly selected these companies on sole sourced arrangement in violation of the provisions of Bureau of Public Procurement Act of 2007,” the group said.

“We make bold to say that with just ordinary letters dated October 13, 2014, February 10, 2015 and April 16, 2015, NAPIMS gave approval to Esso for contracts valued at $260 million in favour of these companies without any tendering process or seeking NNPC’s board approval. Unfortunately, the alleged perpetrators of this act probably forgot to vary the reference numbers of the four letters and they bore the same Reference Number, NAP/[PSC/MM/07.01,” the letter alleged.

“We expected the present management of NAPIMS to halt the contractors from mobilising to site, pending an investigation and in line with your change mantra but instead, they okayed a transaction that was alleged to have violated due process,” said the group.

It urged the President Buhari to investigate the circumstances surrounding the award of the contracts

“Without fear of contradiction, we would not like to sound as if we are giving His Excellency an ultimatum, but we are concerned that your tight schedule may deny this pressing issue the urgent attention of Mr. President and this may compel us to petition the EFCC after 14 days,” the group added.

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