Human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, has lauded the Senate for passing the Amended Bill for Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Contracts Act.
The lawyer, in a letter to the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, also urged the Senate to enlist the help of anti-graft agencies to recover a total of $103.7bn in the hands of oil companies, 14 banks and others.
While noting that the oil companies had filed fresh suits before the Federal High Court over the unpaid royalties, Falana said he hoped that the court would determine the case without delay.
He also urged the Senate to help Nigeria recover the sums of $22bn and N481bn, which the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation failed to remit into the Federation Account.
Falana said the withheld $22bn and N481bn were discovered by the National Extractive Industry and Transparency Initiative.
He also urged the Senate to help the country to recover $12.7bn, being the value of 60.2 barrels of crude oil allegedly stolen by oil companies and discharged at Philadelphia Port in the United States between 2011 and 2014.
He added, “In the course of our work on leakages in the national economy, we discovered that sometime in 2006, the management of the Central Bank of Nigeria illegally withdrew the sum of $7bn from the nation’s foreign reserves and fixed same in 14 commercial banks. For reasons best known to him, the Governor of the Central Bank, Mr Godwin Emefile, has ignored our persistent demand for the recovery of the principal sum of $7bn and the accrued interests from the 14 commercial banks.
“In the light of the foregoing, it is clear that apart from the expected revenue of $1.5bn from the implementation of the amended Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Contracts Act the outstanding royalties, fixed deposit and other funds withheld or diverted from the Federation Account are not less than $103.7bn.
“If the National Assembly, under your able leadership, is prepared to resist pressures from vested interests and muster the political will to recover the said fund, Nigeria will have no business begging for foreign loans from China, African Development Bank and the World Bank. Therefore, the National Assembly may wish to collaborate with the anti-graft agencies in the recovery of the said sum of $103bn without any delay.”
Falana recalled that the Supreme Court had in an October 18, 2018 judgment ordered the Federal Government to recover $62bn unpaid royalties from international oil companies in the last 18 years.
Additional reports from agencies.