Fed Govt launches battle to recover N20tr oil cash

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Six oil firms have defaulted in the payment of approximately $62,190,679,793.00 billion (N20trillion) arrears of revenue to the government based on the deep offshore production sharing contracts.

The government is threatening to release the list of the affected oil giants.

The Presidency is pushing for the recovery of the cash, despite recourse to blackmail, it was learnt yesterday.

Fresh documents also revealed yesterday that the oil firms have defaulted in payment since 2003.

The oil companies have not paid arrears due to the government since the signing of Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act CAP D3 Law of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 (as amended) 2019 for oil exploration in deep offshore and inland basins.

It was also learnt that a matter instituted by the Attorneys-General of three oil-producing States of Rivers, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom (as Plaintiffs) against the Federal Government   added to the uncovering of the arrears.

In October 2018, the Supreme Court gave a ruling  with orders that the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice  should establish a body, which will be the vehicle for the recovery of arrears due to the government from the Production Sharing Contracts.

A top government official, who spoke in confidence, reaffirmed the determination to recover the N20trillion.

The source said: “There are six oil companies involved. They have taken the nation for granted in the last 16 years by denying Nigeria of its revenue from the Production Sharing Contracts.

“We will not  allow the oil firms to cheat the nation any more. The recovery process has legal basis including a ruling of the Supreme Court.

“The affected oil firms have resorted to blackmail but they cannot go far. How can they be owing us $62b and they are saying we should sweep it under the carpet.

“We have kept the list of the firms involved under wraps to allow some understanding. But if they remain adamant, we will lay the cards on the table for all Nigerians to appreciate the havoc wreaked in the oil industry by the six companies.

“There were extensive consultations before the  Presidency approved the recovery of the arrears. So, the demands tabled by the AGF before the oil firms were not unilateral.

“If successive administrations swept the arrears under the carpet, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari will insist on the right thing.”

A document obtained by Leakblast.com last night gave insight into the issues and politics surrounding the recovery of the  arrears in the past 16 years.

It also explained how Trobell International Nigeria Limited was engaged by the Federal Government to recover the N20trillion.

The document reads in part: “What appears apparent from the imbroglio was the fact that such Nigerian revenue, assets and resources were left at the mercy of winds and tides with little or no efforts in the past to recover the huge amounts.

“It is interesting to note that since 19th January, 2017, Trobell International Nigeria Limited had identified the accrued and unpaid revenue arising from the profit sharing contracts as a huge recovery prospect and sent a proposal to the Federal Ministry of Finance applying to be engaged as recovery agent to recover the accrued revenue.

“Trobell’s motives for sending the proposal were purely altruistic, aimed at serving Nigeria’s interest by helping to recover huge amounts of revenue due to the Federation. This was against the backdrop that the agencies of government responsible for the recovery of these revenues accruing since 2003 had for some unknown reasons either ignored the matter or chose not to act on it.

“Moreover, Trobell was convinced that with Muhammadu Buhari in office as Nigeria’s President and Minister of Petroleum Resources, there was no better leader with the courage and conviction to confront the big oil companies and recover all the monies due to the Federation especially at a time when the Nigerian economy was in a very bad shape due to recession and government finances were in dire straits with no alternatives but to go aborrowing through floating costly bonds.

“Despite the glaring prospect of recovery of additional revenue to the Government of the Federation and for reasons unknown, the firm’s proposal was neither processed by the Federal Ministry of Finance nor forwarded to the Attorney-General of the Federation who as the custodian of public interest, has been vested with constitutional responsibilities for further action.

“One year after Trobell’s proposal to the Minister of Finance, and precisely on 19th January, 2018, the firm forwarded same proposal to the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation requesting to be engaged as agents to recover the diverted proceeds of the Government of Nigeria due from the share of profit oil under the various production sharing contracts made pursuant to Section 16(1) of the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act Cap D3 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

“These two letters written by Trobell to both the Federal Ministries of Finance and Justice, wherein the firm had reported how the Government of the Federation had been losing billions of dollars as a result of certain infractions arising from the negligent non-compliance with the provisions of S. 16 (1) of the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act by the contracting parties.

“This conforms with the procedure of engagement of recovery agents in the office of the Attorney General of the Federation when whistleblowers report cases of fraudulent activity or similar issues of contravention of the law that are detrimental to the Government of the Federation. Engagement of recovery agent is triggered by such disclosures in deserving cases.”

The document  explained the  legal background which amplified the recovery drive of the Federal Government.

It confirmed that the case instituted by Rivers, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom against the Federal Government assisted the recovery initiative.

It added: “Worthy of note also is the fact that in April 2017, the Attorneys-General of three oil-producing States of Rivers, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom (as Plaintiffs) brought an action against the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Attorney General of the Federation, the implication of which was that the Attorney General of the Federation being the Chief Law Officer of the country was sued by the three Attorneys -General representing their individual States.

“The Plaintiffs sought two declarations and a consequential order compelling the 2nd defendant-AGF, Abubakar Malami, SAN to recover and pay immediately all outstanding statutory allocation due to the Plaintiffs from August 2003.”

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