HUMAN rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN) has called on the Minister of Finance, Mr Olawale Edun to direct the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL) to remit the sum of $34.2 billion to the Federation account, the sum received on behalf of the Government of Nigeria from the (NLNG) from 2004-2021.
Falana also threatened to file suit at the Federal High Court for immediate recovery of the $34.2 billion from the NNPCL if it refuses to remit same into the Federation Account.
Falana, in a letter addressed to the Minister dated 25 October 2023, requested that the Minister of Finance recover the said $34.2 billion being dividend collected by the NNPCL on behalf of the Federation.
He said that on 27 April 2019, the Senate Committee on Public Accounts held a public hearing on revenue generation drive for the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP).
He noted that, during the hearing, the NLNG General Manager, External Relations and Sustainable Development, Mrs. Eyono Fatai-Williams, disclosed that from 1999 to 2019 the company paid dividends of over $18 billion to Nigeria through the NNPCL from 2004 to 2020.
“She revealed that the NLNG paid $9 billion tax to the federal government from 2011 to date while $15 billion had also been remitted for feed gas to the NNPC since the inception of the company.”
The senior lawyer further states that following the disclosure, the Senate Committee on Public Accounts asked the suspended Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr Ahmed Idris, who was in attendance, to confirm if the said sum of $33 billion was actually remitted to Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation Limited that represents the interest of Nigeria in the NLNG. Mr Idris said that the funds paid by the NLNG were not remitted to the Federation Account but were warehoused by the NNPCL.
“Consequently, the Public Accounts Committee of the Senate directed the Accountant-General to determine how much was actually remitted to the Federation Account, and if there was any deduction by NNPC; how much was deducted and who authorized the deductions and the exchange rates applied for the amount that was remitted over the years under review.
“On 29 March 2021, while speaking at the virtual Nigeria International Petroleum Summit (NIPS) 2021 Pre-Summit Conference and the official launch of the Decade of Gas in Abuja, former President Muhammadu Buhari disclosed that the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (NLNG) had generated $114 billion in revenues over the years with $9 billion in taxes remitted to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
“Apart from the tax remittance, the former President said that NLNG paid $18 billion as dividends and $15 billion in Feed Gas Purchases (FGP) to the Federal Government through the Nigerian National Petroleum Commission Limited (NNPC).”
The human rights lawyer further noted that in 2020 and 2021, the NNPCL equally received the sums of $545.13 million and $722.44 million respectively as dividends from the NLNG.
“The total sum for the two years is $1.267 billion. From the information at our disposal, the said sum of $1.267 billion was not remitted to the Federation Account by the NNPCL. Therefore, the NNPCL is withholding a total sum of $34.2 billion from the Federation Account. “
He said that the decision of the NNPCL to divert the said sum of $34.2 billion from the Federation is not backed by any law. He therefore asked the Minister to direct the NNPCL to remit the said sum of $34.2 billion to the Federation Account as the said sum was received on behalf of the Government of Nigeria from the NLNG from 2004-2021.