May 26, 2023

48M BARRELS: Alleged illegal sale of crude false, Malami insists

Missing crude oil

By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja 

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN) has insisted that the allegation of illegal sale of 48 million barrels of crude oil valued at $2.4 billion was false.

Reappearing before the House of Representatives adhoc committee  investigating alleged loss of over $2.4 billion in revenue from illegal sale of 48 million barrels of crude oil export in 2015 including all crude oil exports and sales from 2014 till date chaired by Hon. Mark Gbillah with the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice/Solicitor-General of the Federation, Beatrice Jedy-Agba on Thursday, the minister said that he still stands by his earlier submission on the matter.

Recall that the minister took the same position when he first appeared before the panel on April 27, 2023 to give testimony.

Malami said he was not a member of the committee and had no documents relating to the matter.

He said, “No documents was made available to me relating to this, I’m talking about a document made available by the whistleblower or the one made available by the system.

Even when I am invited by this committee, not a single document was made available to me for consideration. In the absence of facts, in the absence of documents being presented for my consideration by the National Assembly, in the absence of documents being presented to me by the executive for consideration, in the absence of my participation in any subject matter of investigation, it’s not out of place for me to conclude that there’s no justifiable, reasonable ground basis for such consideration.

“I think we can proceed on the basis of collaboration. And the basis for that is for the committee to make available what document it has at his disposal so that the office of attorney general as well review its archives review this documents and if there’s need for questions and answers we can proceed on that understanding. Any investigation that has the capacity of bringing one dollar to Nigeria I will be a party to it. I will support it, under my watch, the attorney general office has succeeded in recovering over one billion dollars to the Nigerian state overtime. We have submitted documents you requested, if there need for further engagement, with regards to the documents you claim to have at your disposal my suggestion is for us to review what’s presented on my part and yours.”

Speaking further on the directive of the committee to provide the parliament with statement of accounts details of any outstanding, for the period under review, communication with the CBN, their response and  communication with the ministry of finance on the whistle blower recoveries, Malami advised the committee to officially write to the office of the accountant general.

“What I suggest as far as investigative oversight is concerned, write to the office of the accountant general to avail you with assets recovery acct generally maintained by the federal government. Write to the Governor of the Central Bank to avail you with the assets recovery account, because the only thing available at the disposable of the office of Attorney General is perhaps the confirmation of receipts, by a recovery agent issued to us by CBN. It’s not within the AGF office to be a custodian of account,” Malami said.

In his reaction, the Committee Chairman, Gbillah noted the allegations which prompted his invitation neither emanated from the committee nor the parliament.

Gbillah said “we have documents from well meaning and highly placed Nigerians and agencies regarding this allegation. We also have a correspondence from the DSS stating how they intend to go about the investigation as well as a correspondence from Mr. President.

“Even a former Minister of State for Petroleum Resources also wrote a correspondence to the National Security Advisor on this issue. We are surprised that you are not aware of this. We take exception to your statement that there is no basis for the investigation”, he said.

While appreciating the minister for his submissions on the matter, Gbillah however asked him to still remain available for the committee whenever it was necessary.