Energy

Reps give NNPC two-week ultimatum to defend N3tn debt

The House of Representatives’ Ad Hoc Committee on Recovery of Outstanding Debts Owed By Oil and Gas Companies has given the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, now Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, two weeks to defend its indebtedness to the Federal Government to the tune of N3tn.

The committee, which approved the NNPC’s request for an extension of time at its investigative hearing in Abuja on Tuesday, also invited the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning over the debts.

The committee had on March 15, 2022, begun the investigation based on the report of the Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative.

While the NNPC and its subsidiaries are said to owe the Federal Government a total sum of N3tn in crude oil sales and taxes, 77 oil companies operating in Nigeria owe N2.6tn.

The Chairman of the committee, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, decried that huge sums of money belonging to the government had been stacked in individual accounts, causing paucity of funds to finance the budget.

Onyejeocha stated that the committee would not tolerate ministries, departments and agencies undermining its efforts to recover public funds meant for the development of the nation.

She added that while people have continued to do business without paying taxes to the government, Nigeria has remained indebted to foreign lenders.

Onyejeocha partly said, “I welcome all of us to this deliberation and still urge that NNPC, CBN and the Ministry of Finance should oblige us with the documents that we requested from them. Today, because we do not have documents from NNPC, they asked for more time (two weeks).

“I believe that with this letter, we should also sit back and give them some time, because the truth of the matter is that as we are doing here is to make sure that these funds are recovered. We oblige them those two weeks but after two weeks, we will not – and I insist, we shall not accept excuses anymore.

“By those two weeks, we expect that they would have obeyed. What we are actually looking for is the money and documents to show that those monies have been paid.”

In her presentation, Leader of Enforcement Team, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Anita Erinne, said the Service had recovered $8m in the last one month.

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