An oil trading firm, Samano Sa De CV, has written a letter to the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mele Kyari, demanding five per cent reward for exposing the diversion and theft of 48 million barrels of crude oil.
At the current price of global crude oil which is $43 per barrel, the stolen oil is expected to be worth $2.06bn by today’s standard.
The alleged theft took place in 2015.
The allegations are contained in a letter signed by lawyer, Gboyega Oyewole, on behalf of the whistleblower dated July 23, 2020.
The letter is titled, ‘Formal Request for the Payment of five per cent Whistleblower Compensation For Information Furnished In Respect of Crude Oil Stolen from the Federal Republic of Nigeria’.
In the letter, it was stated that the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari, the late Chief of Staff to President Buhari, Abba Kyari; and Mr Umar Mohammed were all informed of the stolen crude and were expected to take action.
A subsequent letter written to the President by the whistleblower, was, however, prevented from getting to him.
The whistleblower said in October 2015, the stolen crude was moved from China without the knowledge of President Buhari and sold illegally by some government and NNPC officials with the proceeds not remitted to the government’s coffers.
When the whistleblower pushed for the agreed five per cent cut of the sale of the crude for exposing the theft, its officials were harassed and issued death threats.
The letter read in part, “Sequel to this policy, our client, being a reputable and credible company, promptly brought to the knowledge of the Nigerian Government, information as to criminal activity involving the NNPC and the stolen product.
“This information was given to high ranking officials of the Nigerian government to wit; Mr Mele Kyari, the Managing Director of NNPC; Mr. Abba Kyari, the then Chief of Staff to the President; and Mr. Umar Mohammed.
“Consequently, it was agreed that an investigation into the stolen product should be made to ascertain the veracity of the information and garner more facts as to the fraudulent activities.
“It was also agreed that if the information is found credible, the perpetrators of the offence would be apprehended and that compensation due to our client for the information brought forward would be awarded.
“Further to the above stated discussions, our client through its Chief Executive Officer, Mr Jose Salaza Tinajero (its representative) wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari notifying him of the stolen products as advised by the high ranking officials.
“The said letter was delivered to Mr Umar Mohammed, who to the surprise of our client, failed to deliver it to the President.”
Attached to the letter were several documents including bank transfers, names of vessels and their captains to show that the stolen products had been illegally sold by some top government officials in connivance with the NNPC. The firm also attached chats between some of the principal players.
When contacted, NNPC’s Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Kennie Obateru, said the oil firm was aware of the accusation but would not respond now.
“We won’t respond to it now, but at the appropriate time we will make our position known to the public,” he said.