The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on Thursday, insisted that it acted within the law by withdrawing $1.05 billion from the dividends account of the Nigeria LNG.
The corporation further said there was nothing illegitimate about the withdrawal since it was done in public interest as it was used to support the importation of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly known as petrol, which is highly subsidised at the rate of N145 per litre.
According to NNPC data, petrol is supposed to be sold at a rate of at least N220 per litre but currently sells at N145.
Defending the action of the state oil company, the Chief Financial Officer, NNPC, Mr Isiaka Abdulrazaq, insisted this was because the Federal Government, through the NNPC, tried to make fuel affordable and available to Nigerians by paying the under-recoveries.
According to him, Section 7 of the NNPC Act empowered it to make the withdrawals from the NLNG dividend account.
It would be recalled that the Senate had in November instituted an investigation into the alleged diversion of $1.05bn from the NLNG dividends account by the NNPC.
Abdulrazaq however said no money was diverted, explaining that the corporation met with the Senate Committee on Gas recently and provided the information requested by the committee.
According to him, the mandate given to the committee has nothing to do with misappropriation or missing money of any type.
“It is about whether the use of those funds was legal or not. The committee is not saying the deductions from the NLNG dividends account were not legal or appropriated. They don’t have any issue with what the funds were used for or whether there is an issue around what the funds were used for.
“The Senate committee is basically investigating the legality of what we consider a legitimate withdrawal from the NLNG dividends account”, he said.
Abdulrazaq also said the NNPC is the shareholder of record in the NLNG, representing the interest of Nigeria.
Continuing, Abdulrazaq said: “The issue around the legality is about why and how did NNPC use those funds. There are two reasons. The first one is the 2018 Appropriation Act. The figure in the 2018 Appropriation Act as revenue from NNPC for oil and gas is net of costs. The same National Assembly appropriated the fact that the revenue will be net of costs.
“The second point is the NNPC Act, Section 7, Subsection 4(b), which says, ‘NNPC is allowed to maintain such monies as may be received by the corporation in the course of its operations or in relations to the exercise by the corporation of any of its functions under this Act and from such funds may defray all expenses incurred by the corporation.”
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