Oil swap deals: Reps to take action against Diezani; condemn Customs for shirking responsibilities

The House of Representatives has reinstated its readiness to take “appropriate action” against the immediate past Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison Maduekwe and a former Managing Director (MD) of the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC) Haruna Momoh.

The appropriate action was not however stated by the Zakari Mohammed-led ad hoc Committee investigating crude oil for refined products exchange arrangement (oil swap) between 2010 and 2014.

The decision of the Committee followed the failure of the two former public officers to appear before it Wednesday despite official notice to that effect.

Alison Maduekwe neither sent a representative nor a written submission explaining her reasons for her absence at the hearing.

Momoh, on the other hand sent his younger brother, Suleman Momoh, who said his brother was indisposed.

“I’m here to represent my brother; he could not be here because he is indisposed. He sent me to submit his presentation and supporting documents to the Committee,” he said.

Zakari, at the ongoing investigation yesterday regretted that the two turned down the invitation of the Committee.

“It is unfortunate that they turned down our invitation. Anyone who knows them should tell them they are daring the parliament.

“We have taken note and we are going to take appropriate action,” he said.

The younger Momoh was asked to inform the former MD that he must appear before the Committee to state his case personally.

The Committee has however condemned the failure of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to carry out its statutory responsibility of inspecting all cargoes coming into the country.

The Committee said the development could be manipulated by unscrupulous elements to import destructive materials and equipment into the country at a time he country is facing security challenges.

Anthony Ayalogu, NCS’s Assistant Comptroller (Trade and Tariff) said Customs officers can only ascertain the presence of oil vessels at the ports but cannot vouch for the content of the vessel as a result of the 2008 directives.

He said until otherwise reversed, the NCS cannot inspect in-coming oil vessels.

The Committee therefore summoned the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance that issued the 2008 memoranda baring the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) from inspecting incoming oil cargoes.

It was also disclosed that a non-resident trading company Trafigura, involved the oil swap arrangement is owing the Federal government $642,536,470 in tax.

Olayemi Ajayi, Director, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) during his presentation also said Duke Oil, owned by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) owed $4.7m as tax on imported petroleum products under the crude oil swap for products between 2010 and 2014.

The two were involved in oil swap arrangement totaling $24b between the period under review.

Though absent at the hearing Wednesday, Trafigura has always maintained that being a non-resident company, it is not liable to pay tax to Nigerian government.

It was this position that informed the Committee’s decision requesting FIRS’s clarification on Trafigura’s status.



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