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Friday, 26 May 2023 05:13

Reps grill Malami over alleged $2.4bn crude oil sale - demand records of all repatriated stolen funds

I’ve helped Nigeria to recover over $1bn ― Malami


The House of Representatives on Thursday expressed its readiness to share some of the classified information relating to the alleged 48 million barrels of Bonny Light crude worth $2.4 billion illegally sold in China in 2015 with the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.

Chairman, ad-hoc committee investigating the alleged stolen crude oil, Hon. Mark Gbillah gave the assurance in Abuja, during the resumed investigative hearing, disagreed with the submission of the AGF that there was no justifiable ground in the first place for the National Assembly to have embarked on probing the allegations of the 48 million barrels of crude illegally sold in China.

When asked whether a presidential committee was set up to look into the allegations, Malami said there were no justifiable grounds and details to embark on any investigation in the first place.

“By way of summary reaction, if I may refresh your memories, distinguished Honourable members, my response when a similar question was asked in the earlier session was simple; and it is to the effect that there was no reasonable ground for suspicion justifying the invocation of the oversight functions of the National Assembly as far as this matter is concerned.

“My basis for such a conclusion was the fact that the basic consideration that could have laid the foundation for either investigation or formation of a committee by the executive or oversight by the National Assembly was not there.

“One, there was an allegation of stolen crude; the fact in respect to that allegation with particular reference to the specifications of the oil, its origin, the vessels if any, that have taken it out of the country; which country and associated details in respect of the transactions were not there.

“And indeed if any product, have they been impounded or confiscated, or forfeited in China? Which agency it is in China that has indeed impounded or confiscated the product?

“Those details were not there. So, the idea of embarking on an investigation or formation of a committee by the executive or oversight functions by the National Assembly does not even arise because even if you are to go to China, where, are customs, immigration, or anti-corruption agencies that you are approaching for the purpose of information, no such details.

“If you are talking of the products, of which origin? All these details are not there so, if you are blowing a whistle, you should go further by way of giving adequate details, and adequate information on what you are blowing; you can’t blow for nothing. You have to blow on the basis of facts, circumstances, date and time. All those information are not there.

“Arriving from that conclusion, there is no foundation or reasonable ground for the formation of a committee because necessary details that could now provoke the consideration of the committee are not there,” the Minister stressed.

Unsatisfied by the Minister’s response, Gbillah who maintained that there were justifiable grounds for the investigation, disclosed that the ad-hoc committee has documents and communication that relate to the matter under probe.

“Contrary to your assertion, Sir, what you have said is incorrect because before this honourable House embarked upon this investigation, we had documents.

“That’s why we carry out the investigation of allegations. We are not confirming there is an infraction done. That is why the House took its time before commencing this investigation.

“Contrary to what you have said, the House and the Committee is in possession of documents indicating storage of certain products; documents showing approval of lifting of a certain quantity of crude outside the country documents on storage of certain crude in some locations in China.

“There are documents showing e-mail exchanges between some top members of the government which were corroborated with regards to these transactions including the DSS.

“And I’m surprised your Office is not aware of this. The DSS made the exchange of correspondences with these individuals and we are in possession of those documents.

“It’s confidential documents that have been made available to the committee, so contrary to your assertion.

“I say we take exception to your response, we do not embark on a wild goose chase. We are also responsible elected Members of the National Assembly who also base our actions on actionable intel, as they say in the intelligence community and this is the information that we received to form the basis.

“We are also privy to a communication by the President regarding this particular issue which we will not say openly but take it up with you in private because we also understand that certain things are classified and confidential,” he said.

Gbillah assured Malami the committee will avail him of relevant documents at its disposal in the course of the investigation.

In his response, the AGF said he was ready to cooperate with the committee if given the relevant documents regarding the probe.

He boasted that his office has helped the country in the recovery of over $1 billion for the country and would not in any way frustrate any efforts aimed at recovering the country’s revenues stashed anywhere.

To this end, the ad-hoc committee asked Malami to furnish it with documents regarding all the recoveries his office has made for the country within period under investigation.

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