A recent interview granted by the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Adrian Awwal Gambo; and comments by the Comptroller-General (CG) of the Nigerian Customs Service, Col. Hammed Ali (rtd) appear to have blown open the lid wide open on a massive fraud in the Nigerian oil sector.
On Sunday, the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, in an interview with Channels Television, debunked claims of daily crude oil theft quoted publicly by the NNPC.
“Most of these claims are definitely outrageous and unrealistic,” Gambo declared.
On reports that between 20,000 and 200,000 barrels of crude oil are being stolen daily in Nigeria, the Navy chief explained that 100,000 barrels of crude is the equivalent of 15.8 million litres of oil that would require a five-ton barge to make 3,160 trips to convey to a mother vessel within a day.
In Abuja, at the House of Representatives, the Customs boss open declared that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s (NNPC) claim of 98m litres daily Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) consumption was fraudulent,.
Ali on Thursday questioned the NNPC’s claims on the volume of PMS (known in local parlance as petrol) supplied and consumed on daily basis. He wondered why the NNPC permits the lifting of 98 million litres of petrol daily when it knew the actual consumption is only 60 million litres.
Accordingly, Ali insisted that the current subsidy regime projected to gulp over N6 trillion in 2023, is also a fraud.
He was reacting to allegations of the high incidence of smuggling of petrol outside the country, while at the National Assembly to defend the NCS presentation on the 2023-2025 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Policy Paper (FSP), held by the Finance Committee, which was chaired by Hon. James Faleke.
The Customs Chief maintained that the 98 million litres of PMS daily consumption cannot be scientifically substantiated, adding that over 38 million litres of PMS released daily in excess of the actual consumption in the Nigerian market find their way out of the country.
Regarding the N11 trillion projected fiscal deficit in the 2023 budget proposal as captured in the 2023-2025 MTEF/FSP, an obviously angry Alli said: “I remember that last year we spoke about this, unfortunately, this year, we are talking about subsidy again.
“The over N11 trillion we are going to take as debt, more than half of it is going for subsidy. The issue is not about smuggling of petroleum products; I have always argued this with NNPC.
“If we are consuming 60 million litres of petrol per day by their own computation, why in the world do you allow the lifting of 98 million litres of petrol per day? Why, if you know this is our consumption, why do you allow that lifting? That is one.
“That computation to me is not anything to be believed because scientifically, you cannot tell me that I filled my tank today and tomorrow, I will still fill my tank with the same quantity of fuel.
“And if I’m running a petrol station, for instance, today, if I go to the Minna Depot and lift a truck and I’m taking it to Kaduna; if I reach Kaduna in the evening and offload that truck that evening, there’s no way I could have sold off that petrol immediately to warrant another loading.
“So, how did we get to 60 million litres every day? These are my problems.
“On the issue of smuggling, if you say you release 98 million litres and then, we use only 60 million litres; the balance will be 38 million litres. How many trucks will carry those 38 million litres every day? That will be almost 500 trucks. Which roads are they following? Where are they carrying them to?” he asked.
In his submission, Deputy Chairman of the Finance Committee, Sa’idu Abdullahi, noted that the amount being “expended” on fuel subsidy, which should have been invested in the provision of social infrastructure, are being diverted into private pockets.
Abdullahi said: “If there is anything that has constituted a nuisance on our resources today, it is subsidy. And without mincing words, as a government, we have not done well in doing the right thing. We are talking about N6 trillion going into subsidy payments which almost don’t exist.
“You talked about 38 million litres which amount to about 500 trucks leaving this shore on a daily basis. We have invested in NIGCOMSAT; do we have captured images of these trucks leaving our shores? Society will be kind to us if we are able to proffer a lasting solution to subsidy because it is not sustainable. Monies that should go into social services are being spent on subsidies which end in private pockets.”
Meanwhile, according to an unnamed commentator on social media, “The Chief of Naval staff revealed alot in his interview with Channels TV.
“He came short of telling Nigerians that the oil theft we are being told is carried out in the Niger delta is actually carried out in the offices of NNPC and NLNG.
“How can massive ships load crude at designated points without the requisite documentation?
“When they are caught by the Navy,that is when their documentation is forwarded to the Navy for them to be released?
“The question is,what would have happened if they were not caught?
“He gave another example of a ship measuring 336m in length, 60metres in width which was also caught loading on official platforms without the requisite documentation.
“This brazen theft is being carried out by civil servants. The unpatriotic nature of an average Nigerian is mind boggling and a research will need to be carried out on it.
“He also said that there is no way oil theft from pipelines will be up to 20,000 barrels of crude oil, saying that 10,000 barrels of crude oil is around 15,800,000 litres of crude and that it will take a 5-ton barge to make 3,160 trips per day to convey such to the high sea and this can never be done without being noticed.
“This brings us to the question of why Tompolo was given such massive pipeline security contract worth four billion naira monthly to secure the nation’s pipeline?
“It is very clear from the interview granted by the Chief of Naval staff that the theft of crude oil is more an official theft than bunkering.
“This is the first time we are hearing first hand the truth about oil theft.
“This information is supposed to generate a massive uproar in every facet of the society but as usual, we are too concerned by ethno-religious bickerings……..and we want a better society.”