OrderPaperToday – Nigeria risks losing revenue worth more than $10 billion due to irregularities discovered in the process of lease renewals, allegedly being perpetrated by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).

The Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) has revealed that the DPR has “willfully and deliberately” denied giving relevant information and data related to the ongoing lease renewal process and this is a cause for concern.

The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Omotayo Alasoadura (APC, Ondo), presented this in a motion requesting for the red chamber’s support in investigating the issue.

Alasoadura noted that it became imperative for his committee to look into this issue due to the plethora of petitions and complaints it received on the matter, declaring that, if left unchecked, this issue is capable of short-changing the country by denying the Federation its appropriate revenue accruable from the renewal of these leases.

According to the Ondo Senator, Kachikwu and the DPR are renewing leases for companies notorious for refusing to pay its royalties to the government from oil and gas lifting, contravening extant laws.

Additionally, under the provision of extant laws, failure to pay royalties can result in the revocation of leases and can present a legal barrier to the renewal of applicable leases.

Speaking in support of the motion, Senator Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna) criticized Kachikwu, who wrote an open letter last year concerning transparency and impunity in the oil sector.

Senator Rafiu Ibrahim (APC, Kwara) also indicated that the Minister of State “ordinarily, does not have final approval of this type of cases; There’s a board of the NNPC.”

He went on to add that there is a “rumour that the Chief of Staff to the president is a member of the board and [is] literarily in charge of the Ministry and NNPC,” urging the red chamber to invite the board as well.

The red chamber, in its prayers, resolved that the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) should investigate all issues relating to the ongoing lease renewal, report the anomalies and identify appropriate measures to correct them.

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