From Abu Tony, Benin City
The Edo State government may soon seek legal redress to compel a refund of monies due to it from the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).
Governor Adams Oshiomhole made the state’s position known yesterday at a FAAC Post-Mortem Sub-Committee national seminar on the role of gas in Nigeria’s economy held in Benin City.
Oshiomhole who maintained that Nigeria cannot continue with “business as usual” said: “We all know that the DPR is not a revenue-collecting agency, the DPR is a regulator. Assuming without conceding that the DPR is a revenue collecting agency. Which section of the Constitution empowers the DPR like any other institution to deduct money from source? That is clearly a criminal breach of the letter and the spirit of the Constitution and I am sure that President Buhari will not tolerate further breach of the Constitution.
“If President Buhari talks of impunity, it is not just about President and ministers, it is also about small players like NIMASA and DPR. It is a public secret that the total budget for DPR, assuming that Budget was a fair budget in the first place, is about N4 billion and in one month, they deducted 4% of certain accruals from royalties and others amounting to over N2 billion. If your annual budget is about N4 billion and you collect N2.billion in one month, that means in a year, you are going to collect N24 to N30 billion naira when your total expenditure is not more than N4 billion.
“This is not only illegal, it is unjust and it is unacceptable and I dare say that we must compel DPR to refund the money. Edo State Government will pursue its share of the money because we have not authorized the DPR to take it. We have a right to go to court. We cannot all keep quiet even in the face of everyone abusing power.
“As part of today’s post-mortem, we want to know how much NIMASA has earned over the years under President Jonathan, that was never transferred into the federation’s account and how much is the money.
“We would like to know how much NPA transferred into the federation account, if they did not, how much did they earn and how much is the money.
“The good thing is that in matters of this nature, time does not run against the state, particularly when the breach is criminal in nature.
“As part of your recommendations the NNPC and NLNG must give a realistic time-frame within which Nigeria will stop flaring gas. It was embarrassing that gas flaring has continued unabated in the country.
Earlier, in a welcome address, Chairman, Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Engineer Elias Mbah said the seminar was organized to explore ways of harnessing the nation’s gas resources to enhance the revenue accruing into the federation account for the benefits of the three tiers of government.
He said: “Nigeria is endowed with abundance gas resources and the sector holds great potentials for unprecedented growth. As at January 2015, Nigeria has 188 trillion cubic feet in gas reserve.”