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Why Yar’Adua Paid N1.4bn To Militants

Posted by By Oluokun Ayorinde/Abuja on 2008/07/24 | Views: 1882 |

Why Yar’Adua Paid N1.4bn To Militants


Desperation by the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Alhaji Abubakar Yar’Adua, to prove to President Umaru Yar’Adua that he can make the refineries work was responsible for his payment of N1.4 billion to militants in the Niger Delta, P.M.News gathered this morning, even as the revelation has continued to generate reactions across the country.

Desperation by the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Alhaji Abubakar Yar’Adua, to prove to President Umaru Yar’Adua that he can make the refineries work was responsible for his payment of N1.4 billion to militants in the Niger Delta, P.M.News gathered this morning, even as the revelation has continued to generate reactions across the country.

The NNPC GMD had told the House of Representatives panel probing government’s revenue and remittance to the Federation Account in Abuja on Tuesday that the Corporation paid militants $12 million in two months because the country was losing $81 million as a result of breakages in Channomi pipeline buried in the mangrove of Delta State.

P.M.News also gathered that the payment was approved by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Odein Ajumogobia.

It was gathered that the payment was to facilitate access to the vandalised Channomi Creek pipeline, the main feeder that supplies crude oil from the Escravos oil fields to both the Warri and Kaduna refineries.

The pipeline was blown up in early 2007 by militants. The blow up of pipelines effectively stopped the nation’s four refineries from working. The repair of the pipelines was therefore necessary for the transportation of crude to the refineries after they were repaired last year.

The militants, according to sources, however, prevented NNPC engineers from gaining access to the pipelines which are located in the creeks of the Niger Delta region.

NNPC engineers were also said to be afraid of venturing into the region for the fear of being killed or taken hostage.

It was gathered that it was at this stage that the management of NNPC with the support of Ajumogobia decided to enter into negotiations with the militants to enable them gain access to the damaged oil pipelines. It was gathered that the militants had also insisted on nominating the contractors that would undertake the repairs of the refinery as part of the deal with NNPC.

The payment, it was gathered, was classified as ‘access fee’, and "community development support" to give it a semblance of legitimacy in the books of the oil corporation.

It was learnt that the militants had actually told NNPC that there are 36 holes in the pipeline network and demanded for a payment of $3 million per hole to allow the contractor to gain access to the site.

Sources also claim that some officials of the oil conglomerate, members of the armed forces stationed in the region and some community leaders who served as negotiators also benefited from the deal.

The militants, after the initial payment, went back to demand for another $3 million as they claimed to have discovered more holes in the pipelines. Meanwhile, criticisms have continued to trail the payment. In its reaction, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) denied receiving any money from NNPC.

The militant group said the money was paid to armed gangs in Delta State by the NNPC as"protection fee." There were also controversies over the actual amount paid. While the NNPC GMD said it was $12 million, sources put the figure at about $60 million, while MEND said the amount is $25 million.

The NNPC Group General Manager (Public Affairs), Dr. Livi Ajuonuma, said in a statement yesterday that his boss was quoted out of context, though he did not deny the payment which he said was made to a local company which he failed to name.

"From our knowledge, the NNPC disbursed over $25 million (N2 billion) for the scam, which was shared by the top commanders of the military Joint Task Force, senior government officials in Delta State Governor’s Office and top management staff in the NNPC."

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