By Henry Umoru
ABUJA — THE Senate, yesterday, alerted the nation to the fact that corrupt politicians now hide stolen money in caskets and uncompleted buildings in remote villages.
The revelation came as the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly commenced probe of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, over allegation of unremitted fuel subsidy funds to the tune of N5.1 trillion collected between 2006 and 2015.
The decision of the Senate to probe the NNPC and the disclosure of where politicians keep their stolen money came yesterday during the consideration of a motion moved by Senator Dino Melaye, APC, Kogi West.
Presenting the motion, Senator Melaye said: “Monies are not accounted for and that might be the reason we now see petro-dollars buried in caskets and uncompleted buildings in remote villages in some parts of the country.”
After a brief debate on the motion, the Senate mandated its Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) to carry out a holistic investigation into the NNPC over its accounts relating to fuel subsidy and the abuse of product marketing and distribution between 2006 and 2016.
Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, who urged the Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) to conduct a holistic investigation, said: “A situation where individuals do what they like and are not accountable to anybody should be stopped.
‘’The committee should do a thorough job and ensure that they get to the root of this issue. The thing borders on the issue of corruption which has been affecting the country negatively.”
Melaye had in a point of order on Tuesday, told the Senate that the Federal Government had refused to probe the NNPC, which he alleged, got 51 of 100 per cent share of companies approved to import petroleum products into the country.
He noted that all the oil marketers currently facing trial over alleged subsidy fraud only constituted 49 per cent of imported refined products.
Presenting the motion yesterday, Senator Melaye said: “The Senate is aware that majority of Nigerians overwhelmingly agreed to fight corruption and this informed the present administration’s resolve to tackle widespread corruption in all its ramification, inclusive of the petroleum industry.
“The Senate notes with dismay that despite the crackdown on corruption by the present government, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, there has been continuous violation by the NNPC, as regards non-remittance of proceeds from the sale of refined products into the federation account.”
‘’This practice is similar to the problems that sparked the national outrage against the last administration;
“The Senate is aware that though independent marketers account for 49% of the imported petroleum product, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) accounts for 51% of imported products but this does not justify the huge amount it has been paid as subsidy in the last 10years;
“It is concerned that from the records derived from the PPMC, 5 to10 cargoes of imported crude arrive the country monthly, while about five cargoes are refined locally and each cargo contains 5.8 million liters of the refined crude products;
“It is worried that the excess products which cannot be dispensed that goes into different tank farms owned by private individuals are not properly accounted for as they are illegally sold off by the owners of these tank farms in a manner that is opaque and usually designed to rip off the public and enrich a few persons stupendously at the expense of the masses.
“The Senate is disturbed that since this administration clamped down on subsidy payment, NNPC has solely been responsible for retail with companies such as BOVAS and RANO paying 20 to 25 naira per liter for the sales of this product which amounts to over N2billion monthly.’’