OPL/OML: Records of signature bonus payments missing, Reps insist

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…As NNPC denies subsidiary spent $11m on workers’ transfer, vehicles maintenance

From Kemi Yesufu, Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja and Adewale Sanyaolu

The House of Representatives ad-hoc committee investigating the status and payment of signature bonuses on oil blocs awarded by previous administrations yesterday, said it could not trace all the signature bonuses paid into Federal Government’s coffers since 1999.
To this end, the Gideon Gwani-led committee resolved to invite former Special Assistant to former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Petroleum, Funsho Kupolokun, to explain the discrepancies in the approval letters provided by some of the holders/operators of the Oil Prospecting Licences (OPLs) and Oil Mining Leases (OMLs) to the ad-hoc committee during the ongoing investigative public hearing.
The ad-hoc committee had also directed that copies of President Obasanjo’s approval, which empowered Kupolokun to approve the oil blocs, be presented to it.
The lawmakers equally threatened to issue warrant of arrest against Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, should he fail to produce financial statement of all the signature bonuses paid by holders/operators of the OPLs and OMLs accrued to Federal Government’s coffer through Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).
The lawmakers, during the investigative hearing, queried DPR over its failure to issue receipt to operators of some oil blocs who got Federal Government’s approval for staggered payment.
“Information provided by the CBN so far is not revealing the content we want to see with regards to signature bonuses and we have written to the CBN again to specifically provide us with information of some of the oil blocs that have been claimed by DPR to have been paid for and some of the oil companies that have paid.
“We have not seen CBNs reply, a week has passed and we can also testify to the fact that a member has moved a motion that we should invite them here and if they don’t come, we should request for a warrant of arrest. “We have summoned CBN, if they don’t come, we would request for a warrant of arrest. Sometimes, we don’t know if the Speaker would do it within 24 hours. By tomorrow we would summon them. If they don’t, we go for a warrant of arrest.
“These are some of the problems that are not allowing us to complete this work and what we are trying to do is to tidy up this assignment in such a way that it would also be a document for DPR, so another assembly will not come and start the process all over again. We have told the leadership that most of these oil companies are not complying until we threatened them.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has absolved its subsidiary, National Petroleum Investment and Management Services (NAPIMS),  a Corporate Services Unit of NNPC of allegations of not spending $9 million on staff transfer alone, neither did it commit $2 million to vehicles maintenance only.

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