The world will see another level of corruption in Nigeria’s oil sector if The Senate is diligent in its proposed probe of what could be described as oil-well corruption.
This followed a revelation by Hardy Oil Nigeria Limited that the scrapped Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) fraudulently sold Atala Marginal Oil Field (OML 46) belonging to it to Halkin Exploration and Production Limited (HEPL).
The Senate which has the statutory powers to investigate such matters mandated its committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, to probe the matter. In October 2021, the two oil firms appeared through their representatives and called The Senate bluff in two subsequent summons.
HEPL slams NGN10billlion suit against Senate
In a dramatic move by Halkin Exploration and Production Limited, the company slammed NGN10billion suit against Nigeria’s Upper Legislative Chamber. It wants the Senate to discontinue further hearing on the matter.
The Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions led by Senator Ayo Akinyelure broke the news of the suit against the committee stated that nothing would stop the probe
Senate Fires back with an arrest warrant against HEPL
In reaction, the investigative committee which has Senators James Manager, Uche Ekwunife, Smart Adeyemi and Sam Egwu as members vowed that a court injunction would not deter the committee from probing the alleged fraudulent sales of the oil field.
The committee also threatened to issue an arrest warrant to compel the management of HEPL to appear before it based on the petition against it authored by its competitors.
The accused DPR
The accused government agency, the Department of Petroleum Resource (DPR) was a department under the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources (FMPR) until it was scrapped by President Muhammadu Buhari on October 19, 2021, following the signing into law the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) on August August 16, 2021.
DPR had the power of ensuring compliance to petroleum laws and monitoring of operations at drilling sites and producing wells until its dissolution.
The scrapped DPR was replaced by the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission (NURC)
Will it be another empty threat?
In the past, court orders were dishonoured at will when they involved oil companies and powerful individuals. When the Senate begins its probe, it’s most likely that some senior government officials are involved in the alleged fraudulent sales of the oil field.
As such, the latest threat by the Senate to issue an arrest warrant on HEPL is most likely to be another empty threat peculiar to the senior lawmaking body which had been shunned by the powerful individuals in the past.
- The GuardianNG