NPDC workers allege fraudulent sale of assets
With the end of the current administration coming to an end, there are allegations that the management of the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) may have clandestinely sold a priced oil asset of the Federal Government OML42 to individuals without passing through due process.
Workers of the company in Benin City, it was gathered, protested against the sale within the premises of the company along Sapele Road last Monday and they were dispersed by armed security operatives. The workers had issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to reverse the alleged sale or they would disrupt oil flow.
But efforts to get reaction of the management were not successful as security men turned back The Guardian at the gate yesterday on the ground that he did not have any appointment with Managing Director of the company, Mr. Anthony Muoneke.
The Guardian also gathered that tension heightened in the company last Tuesday when members of staff received a memo to hand over some parts of the assets of the company to a businessman said to be from the South-East who is said to be a contractor to the company.
Former Group Executive Director of the NPDC, Dr. Chris Ogiemwonyi, had few months ago criticised the appointment of non-petroleum industry expert to head the company, a development he said, may indicate sinister motives by the Federal Government.
A member of staff of the company, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Federal Government was wrong to have appointed a lawyer to head “such an important company.”
He said: “Early this year, we heard a rumour that the Federal Government wants to sell off one of our biggest assets OML42 which they bought from Shell because all the firm’s assets were handed over to NPDC and NNPC.
When we heard of this rumour, we confronted the managing director about it but he denied it because we told them that it is not possible. But we were shocked last week when we were told that they hurriedly sold one of the assets because we have the Ogidi 1 and 2, EGUA, JONES CREEK and they are one of the largest oil wells in West Africa.
“Just last week, we received a circular from the Minister of Petroleum asking workers to hand over to the person that bought it. So, we refused and that was how the problem started.
Our argument is that the asset was not advertised so that people will bid for it. This was done under cover and that is illegal. Our protest started since last week Thursday and we have issued them an ultimatum. If they fail to reverse the decision after seven days, we will shut down all the flow-stations in the country so that Nigerians will ask question.”
“What they are doing is illegal and criminal and if we allow it, they will sell more before the end of this administration. We are worried with the rush at which these things are being sold off.
Now, we are being threatened of sack if we don’t keep quiet but we told the MD we would not keep quiet. The person they sold the asset to is one of our contractors but suddenly, they sold the entire asset to him.
“The action has justified our earlier fears when they brought a lawyer from Abuja to come and head NPDC. we knew he came to do a hatchet job and we have seen it today.
We also want the in-coming President, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, to hear this because if the entire assets are sold, there will be nothing left in our oil industry. The whole thing will now be in the hands of powerful individuals in the society”, the source further said.
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