The management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, has asked four top officials of the agency to leave, multiple sources have told PREMIUM TIMES.
Those asked to step down are the Managing Director of the NNPC Retail, Esther Nnamdi-Ogbue; the General Manager (Operations) of NNPC Retail, Mamza Gwadabe; as well as Ibrahim Bello, another official of NNPC retail. The identity of the last person could not be confirmed as at press time.
The four were asked to depart last Thursday over the ‘missing’ petrol scandal involving Capital Oil & Gas Nigeria Limited owned by businessman, Ifeanyi Ubah.
Following PREMIUM TIMES’ exclusive report on the scandal also involving MRS Petroleum, the NNPC announced that it had set up a committee to investigate the matter.
The committee reportedly found the officials culpable and recommended their dismissal from service.
But this newspaper learnt that the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, and the management of the NNPC later decided to convert their dismissal to retirement.
The case and the officials are now to be referred to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for a full-scale investigation of the matter.
Insiders claimed it was Mrs. Nnamdi-Ogbue who triggered the initial investigation after her attention was called to the matter.
The products, over 100 million litres of petrol worth over N14 billion, belonging to the NNPC Retail, were stored at the private depots under a throughput arrangement as part of the corporation’s strategy to build strategic national fuel reserve.
The NNPC Chief Operating Officer, Downstream, Henry Ikem-Obi, said the fraud was discovered last January when the Petroleum Products Marketing Company, PPMC, another subsidiary of NNPC, needed to access the NNPC Retail’s petrol stored at the Capital Oil depot, to bridge the supply gap.
Mr. Ikem-Obi said the management of Capital Oil offered no concrete explanation regarding why it sold all the NNPC stock of petrol at its depot without seeking permission or informing NNPC Retail.
A source close to the corporation said Mrs. Nnamdi-Ogbue’s decision to alert the NNPC management and also report to the security and anti-graft agencies was after she realized her mistake to have allowed the fraud to happen.
PREMIUM TIMES, however, learnt that the embattled NNPC Retail boss has vowed not to leave, saying she did nothing wrong to warrant her resignation.
“She also rejected the resignation of Mr. Gwadabe on Thursday saying she had trust in his ability,” one of our sources said.
When contacted on Sunday, Mrs. Nnamdi-Ogbue expressed surprised, saying she was not aware of any official notice either retiring her or asking her to resign over the matter.
“I have also heard the rumour,” she said on a telephone chat with this newspaper. “But I have not been served any official letter. I know I have done nothing wrong to deserve any such action. I will continue to do my work until the person who appointed says something.”
The spokesperson of the NNPC, Ndu Ughamadu, also said he was unaware of the development.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This post has been edited to reflect additional information obtained by one of our editors.