$1.8bn TAM contract: SERAP, NBA, others condemn FG, NNPC


The Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project (SERAP) and other prominent civil rights groups on Monday criticized the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government for awarding $1.8bn contracts for the Turn Around Maintenance of refineries to some companies indicted in the $1.2bn Malabu scam.

The groups insisted that the government’s action had shown that it was not serious with the anti-graft war.

Recall that the House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating the fresh TAM plan for the country’s four refineries had on Tuesday queried the criteria used in selecting the consortium of firms listed for the contracts.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation had set aside over $1.8bn for the repairs, which the corporation preferred to call “comprehensive rehabilitation”, as against the traditional TAM.

The House is investigating the desirability of another TAM on the refineries after a series of TAM in the past reportedly gulped “over $20bn” and still left the plants operating at below 20 per cent installed capacity.

The panel, which is chaired by a member of the All Progressives Congress from Kaduna State, Mr. Garba Datti-Muhammad, had summoned the NNPC to produce documents on the status of the refineries and the financial implications of running them at the expense of taxpayers.

But, on Tuesday, after examining the documents, lawmakers observed that some of the firms engaged to carry out the fresh $1.8bn TAM were facing corruption charges across the globe, including the celebrated $1.2bn Malabu oil deal linked to former Nigerian government top officials.

Among the consortium of firms on the NNPC’s list were names like Trafigura, ENI, MIRS and Sahara.

The lawmakers particularly cited the case of ENI, whose directors they said were facing prosecution in some countries, including Italy.

The civil societies said the NNPC had made the Federal Government’s fight against corruption look like noisemaking, calling on anti-graft agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to conduct an independent and thorough investigation, apart from what the House of Representatives was doing on the matter.

The SERAP Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said, “If you worked for a particular establishment and the work given to you was done in a manner that was inappropriate, that should indicate to the person you worked for that you have no integrity and you cannot deliver efficiently.

“This will only show that the government is serious and whatever agenda the government proposes will be effectively accomplished. But for the NNPC to now give contracts to these firms shows the government is not serious and that all what we are saying about anti-corruption is noisemaking.”

Some Nigerians, including two lawyers, Mr. Monday Ubani, who is the 2nd Vice-President of the Nigerian Bar Association and the President of the Committee for Defence of Human Rights, Mr. Malachy Ugwummadu, condemned the award of refineries TAM’ contract to some companies indicted in the Malabu scam.

Reacting to the development on Friday, Ugwummadu said the conduct of the Federal Government through the NNPC by engaging the indicted companies in such contract, violated constitutional provisions which mandate the government to abolish corruption in the country.

He said, “You will appreciate that the controversy surrounding the OPL 245 Malabu oil deal is one of a national embarrassment with international dimension.

Our concern is that the controversy and the web of intrigues are such that the image of Nigeria as a country struggling with corruption has further plummeted as a result of our inability to track the components of corruption network at a time when the accomplices that engaged in the same chain of corrupt transactions are being prosecuted in other climes.

To further compound the embarrassing situation is this revelation that companies allegedly involved in the same corrupt activities have now been rehabilitated and then certified to be fit and proper to continue transacting with NNPC.

That is clearly against section 15(5) of the Constitution which is to the effect that the state shall abolish all forms of corrupt practices and abuse of office.”

On his part, Ubani said it was a blow to the image of a country that claims to be fighting corruption.”