The Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, has denied allegations of his involvement in an alleged $2.4 billion in revenue loss, over an unauthorised sale of 48 million barrels of crude oil.
He made these remarks during his appearance before the ad hoc committee of the House of Representatives, on Thursday, which is currently investigating the alleged ‘illegal sale’, in 2015, as well as crude oil exports from 2014 until now.
Malami argued that the hearing was unnecessary since it did not concern his office or his involvement and firmly stated that the whistleblower’s claims, which implicated him in a $2.4b in revenue loss, lacked both substance and credibility.
The committee’s chairman, Mr Mark Gbillah, explained that the Minister had been invited to shed light on pertinent issues regarding his alleged role in authorising and overseeing payments related to the subject matter.
He emphasized the need for transparency and accountability regarding the authorization, payment, and general handling of revenue from crude oil exports
Mr Gbillah also expressed concerns about the Asset Recovery Account, a fund where recovered funds are temporarily held before being transferred to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
He questioned the legality of this account and suggested its abolition in favour of directly depositing all government revenue into the Consolidated Revenue Fund as stipulated by the Constitution.
The investigation into the alleged loss of over $2.4 billion in revenue gained traction in December 2022 following the adoption of a motion in the House of Representatives, presented by Isiaka Ibrahim, who highlighted the claims made by a whistleblower in July 2020.
The whistleblower alleged that a committee, composed of high-ranking officials from the current administration and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), had discovered the existence of 48 million barrels of Nigeria’s Bonny Light crude oil stored in various ports in China.
The whistleblower further alleged that there were plans to sell this cargo, initiated through unofficial channels, without remitting the proceeds to the country’s coffers as required.
The estimated $2.4b in revenue loss, was based on the average crude oil price in 2015.
Given the seriousness of the allegations and the lingering uncertainties surrounding previous crude oil exports, including issues related to quantity, sale, insurance, revenue generation, payment into the Federation Account, and utilisation of the proceeds, the House aims to uncover the actual details of these transactions.
Reporting by Ibrahim Shehu; Editing by Julian Osamoto and Ssaadatu Albashir