Reps grill Malami over $2.4bn illegal oil sale

According to Punch News, Abubakar Malami (SAN), the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, is now being grilled by the House of Representatives on the alleged smuggling of 48 million barrels of crude oil worth more than $2.4 billion into China.

Malami is testifying before the House’s Ad Hoc Committee to Investigate the Alleged Loss of Over $2.4 Billion in Revenue from the Illegal Sale of 48 Million Barrels of Crude Oil Export in 2015, Including All Crude Oil Exports and Sales by Nigeria from 2014 to the Present, along with Beatrice Jedy-Agba, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice/Solicitor-General of the Federation.

Malami reiterated his prior stance over the allegation and the investigation, while the ministry provided the committee with written information. He requested that the lawmakers make information and papers available to him so he could help with the probe.

Malami and Jedy-Agba will make their second appearance since the investigation started.

On April 27, 2023, the minister made his first appearance before the committee and informed the members that the claim that 48 million barrels of crude oil worth more than $2.4 billion were illegally exported to China is untrue.

For the benefit of Nigerians and the committee, Malami said, “Mr. Chairman, let me declare on the record that the charges relating to the 48 million barrels are without foundation. The accusation is false. In addition to lacking merit, it also lacks substance. The allegation by itself lacks any plausible justification for a substantial suspicion strong enough to compel the committee to act in accordance with its statutory authority.

“Why do I think that? On occasion, in 2016, social media was awash with hyped-up charges. Allegations of 48 million stolen barrels of crude oil from Nigeria worth $2.4 billion were reported to be present in China.

In an informal request, President Muhammadu Buhari asked the Attorney-General, referring to my humble self, Mele Kyari (the then Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation), Lawal Daura (the former Director-General of the Department of State Services), and the late Abba Kyari (the then Chief of Staff to the President), to look into the matter and offer advice.

“Unfortunately, Mr. Chairman, there must be some fundamental facts before there can be a reasonable basis for suspicion. If you are referring to a product, you cannot determine the substance associated with it without establishing that the thing actually came from China. Is a product from Nigeria if it is mentioned as coming from China? Through the use of samples and specifications, that can be proven.

Is that the allegedly Nigerian-originating Bonny Light? There was absolutely no mention of the product’s existence or any connection to Nigeria.

The ministry had also stated that no information on the ships that carried the petroleum to China was available. He added that no Chinese authority had acknowledged receipt and custody of the substance in China, saying, “They were not at all at our disposal.”