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Subsidy: House Clears Zenon Petroleum of Wrongdoing

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Lawmakers considering the report of the House ad hoc committee investigation on the fuel subsidy regime have cleared Zenon Petroleum & Gas Ltd of complicity among companies that obtained foreign exchange but did not import petroleum products.

The House ad hoc committee that also cleared Synopsis Enterprises Ltd explained that the latest information available to it indicated that these two firms should not have been grouped alongside the others because they were not beneficiaries of the Petroleum Support Fund.

Considering the recommendations against the 17 oil firms that failed to appear before the committee to explain their roles in the alleged fraud in the subsidy regime, lawmakers gave the marketers two weeks to submit themselves to the Ad Hoc Committee on Monitoring of the Subsidy Regime in order for them to receive fair hearing before taking a decision against them. The House The Farouk Lawan-led ad hoc committee had recommended that the 17 firms be made to refund N41.936 billion, but the lawmakers deferred the decision.

Among the marketers that got reprieve were Mobil Oil Nigeria, Techno Oil Ltd, AX Energy Limited, Nepal Oil and Gas Service, Oilbath Nigeria, Somerset Energy Services, Stonebridge Oil and Crust Energy Limited. Others included Mut-Has Petroleum, CAH Resources Association, Fresh Synergy Limited, Ibafon Oil, Lottoj Oil and Gas, Oakfield Synergy Network Limited, Petro Trade Energy Limited, Prudent Energy & Services and Rocky Energy Limited.

The committee also recommended that the former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ahmadu Ali, should face prosecution over his tenure as chairman of the board of Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA). Ali was board chairman from 2009 to 2011. The committee wants Ali and the entire members of the board during the period be prosecuted for their decisions which allegedly opened the floodgate for the abuse of the system.

Other recommendations adopted by the House include: 'That the management and board of the NNPC should be completely overhauled and all those involved in infractions be further investigated and prosecuted by the relevant anti-corruption agencies.

"That all the payments which the PPPRA made to itself from the Petroleum Support Fund accounts in excess of the approved administrative charges which is due to it under the template should be recovered and paid back into the fund. The officials involved in this infraction should be further investigated/ prosecuted by the relevant anti-corruption agencies.

"That the Executive Secretaries of the PPPRA between 2009-2011 should be investigated and prosecuted for the official recklessness exhibited in the implementation of the board decision to reverse the qualification for participation in the scheme." The House was however divided on the issue of resolving the violations in the oil sector using the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).

Some members were opposed to the recommendation that the executive should send the PIB to the National Assembly. The 205-page report uncovers a long list of alleged wrongdoings involving oil retailers, Nigeria's Oil Management Company and the state Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). "We are fighting against entrenched interests whose infectious greed has decimated our people… Therefore, be mindful they will fight back and they normally do fight dirty," House Speaker Aminu Tambuwal said as he opened the two-day debate that was broadcast