June 23, 2017
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL and 19 other Civil Society Organizations have made good their pledge to sue the federal government on the fraudulent plan to concession the Port-Harcourt refinery and others by a non-transparent process.
The groups which include Campaign for Democracy, CD, Centre for Change, Nigerians Unite against Corruption, Grassroots Democratic Initiative, Empower Africa for Change, Justice Forum Initiative and co had called on the Federal Government in a Press Conference held in Lagos held on June 5, 2017 to immediately cancel what they described as an ill-advised, ill-designed and fraudulent transaction.
Mr. Debo Adeniran, CACOL’s Executive Chairman while commenting on the decision of the CSO coalition to stop the transaction said, “we have waited long enough for clarifications from the Federal government on the areas we highlighted in our press conference as far as our concerns and demands on the opaque attempt to concession the Part Harcourt refinery is concerned. Unfortunately, we have not gotten any response to alter our convictions that our country is about to lose one of its most prized and important National asset in a plot involving the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources to concession the Port-Harcourt refinery to AGIP and Oando.”
The coalition at the press conference on June 5th said “It was ironic that this government was about to be afflicted with the same ailment it promised to cure in the petroleum sector upon coming to power. That singular ailment is impunity. On May 9, 2017, the Hon. Minister of State for Petroleum Resources announced that the Nigerian Agip Oil Company, a subsidiary of the Italian Oil Company ENI, had “Committed to repairing the Port-Harcourt refinery, as part of a $15,000,000,000.00 (Fifteen Billion Dollars) investment that includes the building of a 150 thousand-barrel-per-day refinery and power plant”.
The coalition also reminded Nigerians that ENI is the same company involved in the Malabu scandal from which the country is still reeling. They said, “on May 11, 2017, Mr. Wale Tinubu, the CEO of Oando Plc, told members of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) that Oando had received approval (in principle) from government to repair, operate and maintain the Port-Harcourt refinery in conjunction with AGIP. This they claimed was further confirmed by Oando’s Chief Strategy and Corporate Services Officer on May 16, 2017, when he said the company was a party to the agreement reached between AGIP and the Federal Government to repair, operate and maintain (ROM) Port-Harcourt refinery. He said the final agreement will be reached at the end of July, 2017.
On the 30th of May, 2017, the Nigerian Senate was the first institution to kick against this clandestine arrangement between the Federal Government and these private companies. On that day, sequel to a motion moved by a distinguished Senator from Jigawa State, Senator Mohammed Sabo, the Senate asked the ministry of Petroleum Resources to stop any further move to concession the Port-Harcourt refinery to AGIP and Oando until it receives a report from a special committee it set up to probe the deal. The coalition expressed their concerns stating that, despite the queries it raised, even the Senate had even opened a small window of possibility to legitimatize this apparently fraudulent concession of a national asset.
“We are concerned that the Senate, with all due respect, may just want to position itself to be part of the bargain to the detriment of Nigerians. The Senate probe is needles as there is nothing to probe. The deal is patently illegal, morally bankrupt and economically disadvantageous to Nigeria as a country. The Senate should have just adopted a motion to stop it outrightly.”
According the CACOL and others “the concession of any asset or infrastructure of the Federal Government, by whatever name called, must be in strict compliance with the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (Establishment, ETC) Act, 2005, Section 1 (1) and (2).”
It is based on the foregoing that the coalition has made good its pledge to sue the Federal Government over the apparently fraudulent transaction.
Adeniran said “we gave the FG 48 hours for an outright cancellation of the fraud and since there are indications that the transaction has been cancelled, we have decided to proceed to court for redress before the country is brazenly robbed of such a vital national asset. Our lawyer, Mr. Festus Keyamo, have already filed our court papers. We shall also proceed to the Senate Committee to defend our position if there is need to, while are preparations to mobilize Nigerians for street protests if the Federal Government decides to proceed with this fraudulent transaction has began.”