For failing to appear at a public hearing by the National Assembly joint Committee on Niger Delta to defend themselves over alleged non-remittance of the statutory funds to the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, the National Assembly yesterday issued bench warrant on seven oil companies operating in the region.
These are Continental Oil and Gas Ltd, Conoil Oil Producing Limited, Niger Delta Petroleum Resources, Allied Energy Plc, Sheba Petroleum Exploration and Production/Express Petroleum, Newcross E&P, Panocean Oil Corporation and Atlas Petroleum Development Coy.
Senate’s action is based on revelations from some oil companies that had made frantic efforts to meet with the management of the NDDC to reconcile their accounts with the commission and settle the necessary outstanding. The statutory funds are meant to be remitted to the NDDC for the development of the Niger Delta region.
The Assembly also accused the management of NDDC of not keeping accurate financial records with remittances from oil companies, which has made it impossible for the commission to get enough funds to execute its numerous projects.
Oriental Energy Resources specifically told the committee that it had made several efforts to meet with the NDDC since December 2015, and had written about three letters to the commission to have a meeting to reconcile accounts, adding that it had $1 million to pay to the commission for the past six months but NDDC had not given the company audience.
The chief technical adviser to Oriental Energy Resources, Engr. Goni Sheikh who disclosed this at the meeting of the Senate and House of Representatives joint committee on NDDC at the Senate wing, told the committee that his company paid $18 million to the commission in 2014 and had set aside the $1million, only that the commission had failed to schedule a meeting with the company despite several letters sent to its management.
Engr. Sheikh pleaded with the committee to intervene by making the NDDC schedule a meeting so as to reconcile all the accounts.
He said, “As at December (2015) we had $1million to pay to NDDC. We have written several letters to the commission for us to meet and reconcile our account but we have not received any reply. We plead with the committee to talk to the NDDC for us to fulfil our obligation; we know what the law says.”
Chairman of the Senate Committee on NDDC, Peter Nwaoboshi lamented that those who had represented the NDDC had created the impression that it was the oil companies that were not remitting what they should be remitting to the coffers of the commission.
He said with testimonies from some of the oil companies, it appeared the NDDC was satisfied with what it had, adding that “there is a procedural lapses in NDDC. The regulations, the procedure they are adopting in that office will be a matter between us and them.”
He also said that the process of forensic audit of the commission had started as there were discrepancies in the financial accounts presented by the commission.
On the inability of some companies to remit the statutory amount to the commission in the past 10 years, the committee expressed disappointment with the management of the commission, though it exonerated the managing director of the commission because she was still new on the board.
Senator Nwaoboshi also directed that bench warrant should be issued to the oil companies that failed to attend the interactive meeting, even as he said the committee was doing as a patriotic duty for the country.
A member of the committee, Senator Samuel Anyanwu representing Imo East said that he found it difficult to believe that NDDC that is looking for funds to execute projects would see money and reject it in reference to the $1million from Oriental Energy, saying the committee would however hear from the commission before making its conclusion.
In his own comment, Rep Uzoma Nkem-Abonta suggested that the committee should carry out forensic auditing of NDDC’s account.
Some of the committee members said that by the financial records provided by NDDC, there were discrepancies and that the commission should be made to account for all the remittances from the oil companies and that there should be timeline to that effect.
“We need to do proper reconciliation of NDDC account. There could be secret account in which oil companies pay money to NDDC and they go into private pockets.
“The impression is that the companies are not paying. I am not even sure that the ones paid by oil companies are in safe hands. Before the impression is that the companies are not paying, but today, we have seen that the reverse is the case.
“We should discontinue the revenue collection for NDDC and investigate their account.”

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