By Henry Umoru
THE Senate has begun a probe into the total amount of crude oil and gas, as well as non-oil export proceeds un-repatriated since the inception of the Pre- Shipment Inspection of Export Act CAP-P26 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
Consequently, the Senate yesterday mandated the Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, led by Senator Uba Sani (APC, Kaduna Central) to carry out a holistic investigation into the matter from April 1996 to 2019.
It asked the committee to ascertain why relevant government agencies keep having conflicting data of same product value published in Nigeria on one hand, while those published by Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC are different.
Resolutions of the Senate was sequel to a motion, titled “Need to investigate pre-shipment Inspection of export activities in Nigeria with respect to Non Repatriation of Crude Oil Export Proceeds in line with Pre-Shipment Inspection of Export Act CAP-P26 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004. Visa-a- Vis challenges posed by global COVID-19 pandemic, sponsored by Senator Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf, APC, Taraba Central, and co-sponsored by 21 other senators.”
According to the Senate, the committee will engage experts to conduct forensic reconciliation of the export proceeds of crude oil, gas and non-oil export into the exporters domiciliary accounts since the inception of the programme in 1996, with a view to ascertaining the exact amount due for repatriation.
The committee was also asked to investigate and engage experts to conduct forensic reconciliation of the Accounts of Nigerian Export Supervision Scheme and Comprehensive Imports Supervision Scheme domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria from inception of the Scheme to 2019.
The Senate also mandated the Committee on Banking to investigate and ascertain the utilisation of the payments into the Nigerian Export Supervision Scheme and Comprehensive Import Supervision Scheme since inception of the programme to 2019.
The Senate directed the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, which is saddled with the responsibility to administer the Nigerian Export Supervision Scheme, NESS, under the technical committee to, forthwith, comply strictly with the provision of the Act and the guidelines for maximum benefit to Nigeria and Nigerians.
In his presentation of the motion, Senator Yusuf said among others: “The Senate notes that Pre-shipment Inspection of Export is the inspection of goods (oil and non-oil) in Nigeria, prior to the shipment of those goods outside Nigeria as provided under the Pre-shipment Inspection of Export Act, Cap P26 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004;
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“Aware that the period, prior to the Pre-shipment Inspection of Export enactment, export of crude oil and gas was characterized by under valuation, delays in issuance of invoices and payments for goods, sometimes up to 120 days, manipulation of crude oil prices, illegal swaps, deliberate illegal over loadings, topping-up of tanker loads by as much as 1 percent (against international standard of 0.1 percent) and other disturbing leakages and lapses.
“Aware also that Federal Government instituted two panels of enquiries, which were headed by Generals Abisoye and Olanrewaju in 1994 and 1995 respectively to investigate and determine the truth or otherwise of the sharp practices. The panels discovered serious leakages amounting to a loss of around 150,000 barrels of crude oil exports per day (i.e about 54,750,000 barrels per year);
“Aware that the Act mandates the Central Bank of Nigeria to establish special account and maintain same for the purpose of payment of levies payable by exporters of all oil and non-oil exports to meet the statutory requirements of the Nigerian Export Supervision Scheme.
‘’The Senate is further aware that from the commencement and implementation of the Act in April 1996 to March 2000, the following successes were recorded: It saved Nigeria huge sums of foreign exchange losses; reduced diversion of crude oil from terminals; reduced arbitration on prices, quality and quantity shortfall claims; and provided on-the-job training, local seminars and overseas training of officers working in designated government relevant agencies.
‘’It is worried that the Joint Venture oil companies have refused to repatriate their portion of the total crude oil export proceeds of over USD850 billion between 1996 and 2016 in total contravention of Section 11 of the Pre-shipment Inspection of Export Act and Article 26 of the Export Policy Guidelines and Procedures for Crude Oil, Gas and Non-oil goods of the Federal Ministry of Finance.”