Alleged oil theft: NNPC orders legal action against Mexican syndicate
A Mexican company at the centre of a controversial whistleblower testimony alleging 48 million barrels of crude oil theft, SAMANO SA DE CV, is in for legal trouble with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
The corporation, in a statement on Thursday, instructed its Counsel, Afe Babalola & Co, to institute appropriate legal actions against SAMANO and its officers for the injury done to the corporation and its officials.
NNPC’s Counsel, Afe Babalola & Co, alleged in the statement that SAMANO was working in concert with its local and international agents to intimidate, blackmail and extort money from the Federal Government of Nigeria and the corporation.
It noted that an online publication on Sahara Reporters of 26 July 2020, captioned “EXCLUSIVE: How Nigerian Government Officials, NNPC Staff Sold 48 Million Barrels Of Stolen Crude Oil, Issued Death Threats To Whistleblower,” was sponsored by SAMANO.
According to the legal firm, contents of the publication and several television broadcasts and commentaries in respect of the same subject replicate the content of a recent letter forwarded to NNPC on behalf of SAMANO by its solicitors, Messrs. Lords & Temple.
It stated that the “publications were replete with falsehoods, offensive, gold-digging and a calculated attempt by the said SAMANO SA DE CV (SAMANO) working in concert with its local and international agents to intimidate, blackmail and extort money from the Federal Government of Nigeria and NNPC.”
“NNPC clarified that “SAMANO first contacted officials of the Federal Government of Nigeria sometime in 2015 indicating that it had been approached by an unnamed group in the People’s Republic of China to buy 48 Million Barrels of Nigerian Crude Oil which they believed to have been stolen from Nigeria. According to SAMANO, this crude had been stolen and shipped to China before the inception of President Buhari’s administration in 2015.
“SAMANO requested that it be allowed to purchase the stolen crude after its recovery by the Federal Government. Shortly thereafter, SAMANO indicated that it was not interested in buying the said stolen crude as it only obliged the Federal Government with the information to assist the President Buhari-led administration’s fight against corruption.”
Upon investigation, the corporation found that as of 2015, the daily production of crude oil in Nigeria was below 1.6 million barrels; 48 million barrels of crude oil would have been the total production capacity of the country for a whole month.
NNPC noted that it remains simply impossible for one-month crude oil production for the entire country to disappear without any record or trace from the shores of the country, adding that it was also aware that as at the material time and considering the fact that the People’s Republic of China is one of the most regulated economies in the world, the export of Crude Oil from Nigeria to China was exclusively undertaken by four known companies approved by, under the control, ownership, and management of the Chinese Government.
The corporation said it would, therefore, have been impossible to transport 48 Million Barrels of Crude Oil from Nigeria to China without the active involvement of the said companies.
It further noted that “SAMANO made several demands including the demand that it be paid the sum of $125,000,000:00 by the government officials to prevent it from disclosing this false information to the public.”
“This demand soon metamorphosed into harassment as SAMANO embarked on a mischievous exercise to embarrass the Federal Government of Nigeria on international media platforms and before several international institutions like the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) all in a calculated bid to blackmail the Federal Government of Nigeria and NNPC into paying it a significant amount of money as compensation.”
“As a result of the constant harassment, NNPC was constrained to make a formal report to the Department of State Security (DSS) and Nigeria Police while other victims wrote petitions in respect of the same subject to the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation.
“After a thorough investigation by the Police and DSS and confessions by agents of SAMANO, it was discovered that the allegations of conspiracy, forgery, obtaining money by false pretence, blackmail and extortion were well-founded and that some of the fraudulent activities of one Mr Ramirez and Mr Jose Salazar Tinajero (both agents of SAMANO) constituted a threat to the national security of Nigeria.