Communities shut down N’Assembly as Senate intervenes

… Alison-Madueke not involved –Aide

Five aggrieved oil-producing communities in Delta State yesterday shut down the National Assembly over allegations that Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke and Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Limited were involved in a N58.9 trillion shady oil deal.

Besides, the oil communities declared that Nigeria would lose four trillion cubic feet of gas asset worth $15.72 trillion.

Already, the Senate has summoned top management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to explain their alleged involvement in the deal.

The five oil-producing communities and their leaders protesting the illegal deal are: Itsekiri Ethnic Nationality (led by Chief Emami Ayiri); Ijaw Ethnic Nationality (Chief Aribogha Johnny); Urhobo Ethnic Nationality (Olorogun Jaro Egbo), Isoko Ethnic Nationality Zino Onaemor); and Ndokwa Ethnic Nationality (Emmanuel Orwti).

The communities accused the minister of having secretly transferred production rights in four large oil blocks (OMLs 26, 30, 34, and 42) to Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited, allegedly owned by Mr. Jide Omokore.

They also claimed that the deal was perfected “two days before President Goodluck Jonathan dissolved the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in 2011…”

In a petition presented to Senate President David Mark and Speaker Aminu Tambuwal yesterday, the communities alleged that there was “deliberate exclusion of indigenous rights to preemption and/ or first refusal and breach of open and competitive bidding on the four oil blocks.”

They demanded an outright cancellation of “the on-going hand-over of OML 4, 26, 30, 34, 38, 41 and 42 to Atlantic Energy and Septa Energy” and that the deal “be put on hold pending the determination of the issues raised in the petition.” The communities demanded an investigation of the abuse of due process by the National Assembly.

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Besides, the petitioners accused the SPDC of active participation in the fraudulent allocation to unqualified contractors.

A part of the petition reads: “We, members of the oil-producing communities, are compelled to bring to the notice of the National Assembly the manner and /or mode upon which the allocation of the oil mining leases were fraudulently allocated by the Minister of Petroleum Resources, the officials of the ministry and the SPDC. “Mr. Jide Omokore’s Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited neither tendered for, nor bided for the blocks.

By this deal, 60 per cent of NNDC’s 55 per cent stake of these assets is about five billion barrels, which when calculated with the 2013 crude oil benchmark comes to $380 billion or N58.9trillion. This figure is exclusive of the four trillion cubic feet (4TCF) of gas asset in the blocks valued at $15.72 trillion.

“The game behind this deal is brought sharply into focus by noting the fact that, on OML 26, 30, 34 and 42, Mrs Deiziani Allison-Madueke’s alleged no–bid approach via the so called “Strategic Alliance Agreement” fetched the Federation Account an upfront cash payment of little more than $50 million as initial entrance fee from Atlantic Energy, while SPDC’s open and competitive bidding process, though excluding indigenes of the area on the other hand, got $1.3 billion from Heritage Oil Plc, for its 45 per cent joint venture beneficial stake of the same block.

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“Clearly, the true market value of the OML 30 assets divested to Atlantic Energy by NPDC, if the open and competitive bidding process mandated by Public Procurement Act had been followed, should not be any less than $800 million.

The said “Atlantic Energy Agreement” in OML 30 is annexed hereto.” Addressing the aggrieved communities who shut down all legislative activities in the National Assembly yesterday morning, Senate Deputy Majority Leader Abdul Ningi, assured the communities that the Upper Legislative Chamber would get to the root of the matter.

He begged the aggrieved communities to give the Senate one month to invite all parties and resolve the issue holistically. “It’s not only the Niger Deltans who feel the injustice meted out to Niger Deltans.

We have tried to take care of the host communities because they have suffered from the oil exploration activities in the Niger Delta. “We have seen the petition and if it is true, you definitely have a case.

This is the first time we are seeing this maladministration if this petition is true. Please, give us 30 days instead of the two weeks asked from lawmakers.”

Minority Whip Ganiyu Solomon echoed Ningi’s request for 30 days to carry out a “comprehensive investigation into these allegations” while the Chairman of the Petroleum Upstream Committee, Senator Emmanuel Paulker, assured the protesters that the new Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is already addressing the problems.

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“The PIB is dealing with most of the problems you are talking about. I know the oil wells very well on paper, that is, the OML 30 and co. Next week, the Upstream Committee will invite your representatives and officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to come and address these accusations.” Leaders of the communities agreed with the intervention package outlined by the National Assembly on the matter.

Reacting to the demonstration, the minister’s media aide, Mr Kelvin Alonso, confirmed that her principal was actually aware of the protest by youths at the National Assembly.

He denied the minister’s involvement in a N59 trillion oil deal with the SPDC. Mr Alonso, however, declined to speak further as he insisted that he must get the details from Alison-Madueke before making any comment. He said though he could get the minister’s position on the allegations later in the night since he was yet to contact her for comments.

“Yes, we are aware and the minister is also aware of the development this afternoon at the National Assembly. But I can only get any comment or reaction from her when I am able to meet with her.

At the moment, she is in a meeting and I can’t access her”, Alonso said. He promised to get back to our correspondent in two hours time, but could not, at the time of filing this report.


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