29 September 2016, Lagos – The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice has said the plan by the National Assembly to probe the alleged $17bn undeclared crude oil and gas exports is a step in the right direction.
The group said in a statement that it was hopeful that the probe panel would comprise Nigerians of integrity.
The Executive Director, ANEEJ, Rev. David Ugolor, noted that it had been reported that the National Assembly was already constituting a probe panel to look into instances of oil and gas theft in Nigeria from 2011 to 2014.
He said, “ANEEJ is happy with the latest plan by the National Assembly to unravel whatever circumstances that may have led to the theft of national resources to the extent that we are now in a recession.
“We believe that if proceeds from oil and gas were effectively managed, it would not have opened up room for a huge heist of $17bn. Even though the time span indicated by the lawmakers is a start, a probe from 2011 to 2014 barely can address the remote causes of the huge loss to Nigeria, and all the individuals behind the oil heist,” Ugolor said.
ANEEJ expressed hope that those behind the stealing of “our collective resources must be tracked, identified, brought to book and used as deterrents”.
According to the statement, ANEEJ is interested in the success of the probe to draw attention to the need to quickly pass the Petroleum Industry Bill, which seeks to regulate the oil and gas sectors and to check corruption and cases of fraud.
Ugolor said, “What is important at this stage is to set up a concurrent template for the use of monies to be recovered from this probe. If this can be done as quickly as possible, there will be no need for Nigeria to tinker with the idea of selling off its national assets like refineries.
“The National Assembly probe of oil and gas accruals from 2011 to 2014 must be able to set the benchmark for the proper account of the number of crude oil Nigeria produces per day. The current practice wherein multinationals give unverifiable numbers of the barrels of crude from Nigeria is another form of heist and must be regulated as well,” Ugolor said in the statement.