N15.2bn petrol racket: NNPC fires three directors

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) yesterday struck its retail directorates, which had  been neck-deep in the N15.2 billion missing Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol, sacking three directors and deploying four others.The corporation, which had earlier promised measures to achieve full recovery of over 130 mil   lion litres of petrol, worth N15.162 billion based on N116.63 per litre ex-depot price from Capital Oil and Gas Limited, had      prom ised to punish its staff involved in the missing fuel racket.

The product, stored in the facilities of two indigenous downstream operators, MRS Limited and Capital Oil & Gas Limited, under a throughput arrangement to ensure a robust strategic reserve, has been at the centre of controversy since last  month when the product was declared missing. The NNPC, in a statement issued by its spokesman, Ndu Ughamadu, stated that this action was taken “in line with the ongoing reforms in the NNPC.”

The corporation listed those affected to include the Managing Director, NNPC Retail Ltd., Mrs. Esther Nnamdi-Ogbue; Executive Director, Operations, NNPC Retail Ltd, Mr. Alpha P. Mamza; and Manager, Distribution, NNPC Retail Ltd, Mr. Oluwa Kayode Erinoso.

“Their sack was based on a committee report submitted last week in which NNPC has recommended their disengagement,” a source at the corporation said, adding that their “disengagement was squarely based on their links with the missing 130 million litres of petrol.”

The officials, New Telegraph further gathered, were linked directly to the missing petrol stored at private depots through a throughput arrangement. The directorate, Retails Directorate, supervised the throughput programme and directly dealt with Capital Oil and Gas Limited and other seven depot owners for the programme. Those deployed, according to the corporation, are the Managing Director of NNPC Retail Ltd., Mr. Adeyemi Adetunji; Executive Director, Operations, NNPC Retail Ltd., Engr. Lawal Bello; Executive Director, Services, NNPC Retail Ltd., Mrs. Affiong Akpasubi; and Manager, Distribution, NNPC Retail Ltd., Mr. Agwandas A. Andrawus.

“The appointments take effect, immediately,” the statement said. Until his new assignment, Adetunji was General Manager, Strategy & Planning, Gas & Power and also former General Manager, Transformation Office. Group Managing Director, NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, charged the deployed staff to remain committed to their duties in line with the transformation aspirations of the Management. The Department of State Services (DSS) had, based on NNPC’s complaints, invited the Chairman of Capital Oil and Gas Limited, Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah for questioning.

“He had not only been going back there (DSS) for further investigation, but was asked to submit to the DSS repayment plans for the missing product,” a source at his company said.

The NNPC had, penultimate Friday, announced measures to achieve full recovery of the over 130 million litres of product worth over N11 billion, which was declared missing at Ubah-owned Capital Oil and Gas Limited depots. Henry Ikem-Obih, Chief Operating Officer of the NNPC Downstream, told journalists in Abuja that the infraction was discovered earlier in the year when the corporation needed to access the over 100 million litres of petrol stored at the Capital Oil & Gas depot for NNPC Retail and just over 30 million litres in MRS Limited depot, all in Apapa area of Lagos.

“We instructed the Nigerian Products Marketing Company (NPMC), a subsidiary of NNPC, to send additional trucks to those locations to move products for distribution aimed at meeting a supply shortfall we discovered in the market, but after days of not being able to access the terminals, we had to take a decision as NNPC management to invite auditors and inspectors to go and do a physical check on the inventories,” he said.

Ikem-Obih said the visit revealed that there was no molecule of product for the NNPC to evacuate. He said the infraction by the two downstream companies was a clear violation of existing throughput contract, which prohibits the owners of the facilities from tampering with the volumes in their custody without express permission of the corporation. Ikem-Obih disclosed that the corporation alerted the DSS, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as well as the relevant committees of the National Assembly with oversight function on the corporation’s downstream operation to help recover the assets, contrary to the insinuation that NNPC kept mute over the infraction until the Senate uncovered it.

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