Facts have emerged on how some Nigerian Government officials and senior Nigerian National Petroleum Corporations staff connived to sell 48 million barrels of Bonny Light crude oil stolen from the country during the first year of President Muhammadu Buhari’s first term in office in 2015.
The stolen crude, according to Saharareporters, was moved to China where it was stored in various ports and terminals including Sinochem tanks in Zhoushan bonded area and Vishal star tanks.
Potential buyers were from that point contacted for the stolen product by the Nigerian Government officials including a company that eventually blew the whistle on the monumental fraud.
Realising that the crude was stolen, SAMANO SA DE CV brought to the Nigerian Government’s attention the criminal activity involving the NNPC, according to documents seen by SaharaReporters.
Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari, late Chief of Staff to President Buhari, Abba Kyari, and Mr Umar Mohammed were all promptly notified of the stolen crude in order to take appropriate action.
However, a letter written by the whistleblower to the President was prevented from getting to him by Mohammed.
In October 2015, the stolen crude was moved from China without the knowledge of President Buhari and sold illegally by some government and NNPC officials with the proceeds not remitted to the government’s coffers.
When the whistleblower pushed for its agreed five per cent cut of the sale of the crude for exposing the theft, its officials were harassed and issued death threats.
Several efforts for compensation by the whistleblower continues to be frustrated by government officials, who were part of the illegal deal and economic sabotage.
The whistleblower in a letter by its lawyer, Gboyega Oyewole of Lord and Temple, a United Kingdom-based law firm, dated July 23, 2020 to the NNPC GMD has demanded for the company’s compensation for helping to expose the criminal activity.
The whistleblower policy, an anti-corruption programme launched in 2016 by the Nigerian Government, encourages individuals to report cases of financial mismanagement or stolen funds in return for a share of the recovered item if the information provided turns out to be credible.
The letter reads, “Our client was approached by a group in the Peoples’ Republic of Chinas with the intent to sell 48 million barrels of Bonny Light Crude Oil believed to have been stolen from the Federal Republic of Nigeria and stored in various ports and terminals in China.
“It was revealed to our client that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporations authorised certain companies to sell the stolen product.
“It was agreed that an investigation into the stolen products should be made to ascertain the veracity of the information and gather more facts as to the fraudulent activities. It was also agreed that if the information is found credible, the perpetrators of the offensive will be apprehended and that compensation due to our client for the information so brought forward will be awarded.
“In October 2015, our client got wind of the fact that the stolen products were being moved from their location in China by the Nigerian Government in calculated steps to recover the said products. Our client then caused a letter to be written to Mr Mele Kyari, through Mr. Marco Ramirez, offering to legally purchase the said products from the Nigerian Government if available for sale.
“Our client through its representative subsequently wrote to Mr Umar Mohammed clarifying its intention to the criminal activity in respect to the stolen products and not to make illegal purchases of the same.
“To date, our client has unfortunately not received any form of compensation for the information provided to the Nigerian Government in respect of the stolen products and or response to its offer to legally purchase the same when recovered.
“The upright act of reporting the criminal activity to appropriate quarters was not protected by the expected confidential nature of the policy, thereby exposing officials of our client to serious consequences including threat to life.”
The whistleblower’s lawyer further revealed that Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, and former Director-General of the Department of State Services, Lawal Daura, were contacted to help get its compensation but nothing tangible surfaced.
The company has now threatened to take legal action against the NNPC if after 14 days from the date of the receipt of the letter the demand was not met.