*Emefiele fails to turn up at investigative hearing on undeclared crude revenue
24 February 2017, Abuja — The federal government still owes over N300 billion subsidy claims to major oil marketers for fuel imports between 2014-2015.
This was revealed by the Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) of Forte Oil Nigeria, Mr. Akin Akinfemiwa, when he appeared yesterday, before the House of Representatives Adhoc committee investigating debts owed to the Petroleum Pipeline Marketing Company (PPMC) by oil marketers.
N13.8 billion out of the debt, is owed to Forte oil, he told the Hon. Abdullahi Mahmud Gaya led committee, noting that efforts are already ongoing to settle the subsidy debts.
“So far, the government, led by the Chief of Staff to the President invited us to a meeting with other stakeholders to address two issues. One was to continue petrol supply, and two was for Federal Government to pay its debts. For the debts, a committee was set up to settle them. The total stands at over N300 billion. Right now, we cannot even do much, but we do not want a situation where there will be queues in the country,” Akinfemiwa said.
Forte Oil, however, owes the sum of N5.9 billion to the PPMC, after a payment of N5 billion in December 2016, he told the committee.
Gaya noted that the committee’s mandate is to recover the debts owed by the oil marketers to the PPMC, and queried what efforts the company is making to pay the N5 billion outstanding debt.
Hon. Henry Nwaoba (Imo PDP) requested for details of Forte Oil ‘s credit dealers, to enable the committee ascertain the subsidy claims.
Responding to several questions from the committee members, Akinfemiwa said the company does not sell directly to individuals, but to dealers, whose companies are well known.
“With respect to N5.9bn, I think the executive arm’s committee finishes its work in the next two and half weeks before we can talk about paying. We’ll continue to pay what we can till we’re able to liquidate the debts,” he said.
“So most of the time, the security is the company, which is like the company guarantee. We sell both on credit and sometimes not. Since 2015, we have had a situation where we migrated more to credit dealers because of the situation in the country. We have seen a shift from cash and carry, to credit,” he said.
Akinfemiwa disclosed that the company has about 12-13 per cent of market share in the industry, with about 500 retails outlets spread across Nigeria. The company is however being hampered by cash flow, he said.
The members were however resolute that Forte Oil must pay at least half of the N5.9 billion debt it owes to the PPMC, else the committee would direct the agency to stop fuel supply to Forte oil.
In another development, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, yesterday, made no appearance, or representation, at the House of Representatives Adhoc committee investigating the $17billion stolen crude.
Emefiele’s absence stalled proceedings at the hearing, leading the committee to issue a week ultimatum to him to respond to its summons.
The committee, chaired by Hon. Namdas Abdulrazak is charged with investigations into the $17 billion stolen through undeclared crude oil and liquified natural gas exports to global destinations between 2011 and 2014.
Namdas, briefing newsmen at the hearing said while the CBN is key to the investigations, the committee had received conflicting information from the apex bank when contacted to provide information regarding the subject matter.
Displaying the letters received from the CBN, Namdas said the apex bank initially wrote, to ask for more time because of the volume of data requested for, while another letter from the bank, said they have no information regarding the stolen crude.
“After they wrote the first letter asking for time, we had written and given them two weeks. Their second letter was shocking, that they do not have any information on undeclared crude. Then we wrote another letter asking him to be here, but he is not here, and did not send any representative,” Namdas said.
“We are disappointed, a very serious matter like this. We expect that under this regime, fighting corruption would be taken seriously, particularly by MDAs, but we will not relent,” he added.
Namdas, who is also Chairman of the Committee on Media and Publicity, said the committee would still write to Emefiele, summoning him to appear at the hearing.
“If he does not come, then we will invoke the relevant sections of the constitution,” he added.
*Damilola Oyedele – Thisday