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I was fired for exposing N11bn petroleum products diversion -ex-NNPC Retail MD

Friday, July 14, 2017


From Kemi Yesufu , Abuja

Former Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Retail Limited, Esther Nnamdi-Ogbue, yesterday said she was sacked for reporting the unauthorised diversion of N11 billion worth of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) belonging to the NNPC by Capital Oil and Gas company, to security agencies.

Nnamdi-Ogbue likened her retirement as Head of NNPC Retail Ltd in April to scenes from Nollywood films where security agencies turn around to label the whistle-blower, the suspect in a crime.

Mrs. Nnamdi-Ogbue, who gave testimony on the second day of the investigative hearing by the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) into the disappearance of N11 billion worth of products belonging to NNPC, stated that she reported the diversion of PMS kept in Capital Oil and Gas Lagos tank farm to the Department of State Security Service (DSS) as well as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). She stated that response from EFCC and DSS wasn't satisfactory despite spirited efforts by NNPC Retail under her leadership to get both agencies to ensure the recovery of the products or payment for the products by the oil company within seven days as stipulated in the Throughput Agreement with Capital Oil and Gas.

According to her, the only response she got from the EFCC after letters written to its Acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, was when operatives from the agency stormed her Abuja residence after she had been compelled to resign by the leadership of NNPC, to conduct a search, after which the officers left with documents relating to NNPC Retail's agreement with the oil firm.

Despite agreeing that she was issued a query immediately after the diversion of the products was discovered, which she responded to, she insisted that her retirement was a result of her daring to report the disappearance of products to EFCC and DSS even when Capital Oil and Gas has never denied diverting the products without the permission of NNPC Retail Ltd.

The former NNPC Retail boss said she was warned by close associates to resign to prevent being embarrassed out of office, even as she accused the EFCC of leaking a story to an online medium linking her to the Osborne Towers flat where $43 million stash was discovered.

When asked by a member of the committee, Samuel Akintola, if NNPC Retail had staff monitoring private depots where it stores products and why the diversion wasn't discovered on time, Nnamdi-Ogbue said the agency had a "robust structure" up to the level of General Manager Operations, NNPC Retail, with the duty of monitoring products warehoused on its behalf.

Also in response to a question from another member, Betty Apiafi, on if any other staff of NNPC Retail was sacked over the matter, she said the then General Manager, Operations, the Manager, Distributions and the Coordinator, Private Deports were also relieved of their jobs.

After a mild drama over the failure to place him under oath before he started his testimony, Managing Director of Capital Oil and Gas, Ifeanyi Uba, upon taking the oath, stressed that his company did not breech its contract with NNPC.

Ubah who expressed displeasure that he heard of the invitation from the committee on social media, stressed that NNPC owed his company about N16 billion.

He wondered why NNPC was only concerned about its claims that it was owed N11 billion by Capital Oil and Gas, but was silent about the amount it owed.

"While we called for reconciliation of these issues, NNPC decided to present the issue to the public and other government agencies and in the process, deliberately left important information.

"NNPC, for example, claimed that we owe N11 billion but failed to reveal that they owe us N16 billion with a key portion of the debt spanning over two years," Ubah said.

Earlier in his presentation, Executive Director, NNPC Retail, Danjuma Dansure, reiterated that following the intervention of DSS, Capital Oil and Gas made a partial payment of N2 billion in April from N11.144 billion owed the agency for 84,891,730 litres priced at N131.28 per litre.

He stated that negotiation was still ongoing over the accumulated interest of N1,358,407,080 with regard to the Throughput Agreement with Ubah's company.