IN furtherance of its investigation into the acquisition of OVH Energy by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), the House of Representatives on Friday, September 15, interrogated the company’s Group Chief Executive Officer, Mele Kyari.
The Lower House had in July considered a motion, ‘Need to Investigate the Irregularities and Alleged Corruption in the Nigerian Energy Security Provider, NNPC Retail Limited’, and constituted an ad-hoc committee to investigate the matter.
The committee had, in a letter dated August 28, addressed to the managing director of NNPC Retail Limited and signed by the chairman of the ad hoc committee, Hassan Nalaraba, requested the NNPCL to provide it with documents on all financial transactions associated with the acquisition, including payment records and fund transfers.
Details of its request include that the NNPCL furnish it with information about registration documents/history from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) for OVH, Nueoil, and NNPC Retail Limited (NRL), board resolution of NNPCL on the purchase of OVH.
It also includes the audited financial statement and management accounts from 2015 to date of OVH, Nueoil, NRL and NNPCL, as well as the payroll from 2015 for NRL and OVH, and board resolution of NRL for the movement of head office to Lagos and evidence of tax payments for NRL and OVH from 2015 to date.
In October 2022, the NNPCL announced its acquisition of OVH Energy Marketing Limited’s downstream assets to add what it said was over 380 filling stations to its portfolio.
The assets acquired from the company, which operates Oando filling stations, also include a reception jetty with 240,000 metric tonnes monthly capacity and eight liquefied petroleum gas plants, three lube blending plants, three aviation depots, and 12 warehouses.
In an investigative report, Premium Times exposed the secret deals and the complicated ownership structure that left the management of NNPC Retail in the hands of OVH Energy Marketing.
The report also exposed how OVH Energy Marketing only had about 94 stations and over 100 stations were leased, dismissing NNPCL’s claims of gaining over 380 filling stations to its portfolios.
However, in July, the House of Representatives directed the NNPCL to suspend the OVH acquisition.
At the investigative summon on Friday, the Rep. majority leader, Julius Ihoenvbere, remarked that NNPCL was no longer a government agency and that whatever the company does attracts public attention.
Kyari had, on Monday, September 11, failed to appear before the ad-hoc committee.
At the investigative panel on Friday, he claimed the allegations against the acquisition of OVH were not true.
“The Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) also grants us the mandate to guarantee national energy security. On this basis, it is duty-bound on us to grow our market share,” he said.
“We believe that the only way we can grow our market share is by expanding our business. Since the acquisition of OVH, the profit margin of NNPC retail has jumped.”
According to Kyari, the NNPCL is a creation of the federation with over 200 million Nigerians as shareholders.
“We are happy with the acquisition of OVH. For instance, in 2021, before the acquisition, NNPC retail made N6.93 billion profit. But in one quarter after the acquisition (1st Qtr 2023), we made a profit of N18.4bn,” he disclosed, arguing that it was all due to the acquisition.
Noting that every merger and acquisition has a transition period, Kyari said, “We are rising to those challenges brought about by the transition. We are also ensuring that none of our staff at NNPC retail is victimised.”