Nigeria lawmakers to investigate $17 bln oil theft claim – Reuters

00311928_0b4dc94959c7927047fa05b585f01e19_arc614x376_w614_us1

ABUJA, Sept 23 (Reuters) – Lawmakers in Nigeria’s lower house of parliament are to investigate whether $17 billion of petroleum and fuel exports were stolen by companies and government agencies under the administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari’s predecessor.

Buhari, elected last year largely on his vow to fight corruption, has said he will recover “mind-boggling” sums of money stolen from the oil sector in the OPEC member nation, which has Africa’s biggest economy.

He has said public coffers were “virtually empty” when he took office last May after defeating his predecessor Goodluck Jonathan, who was president from 2010 until 2015.

House of Representatives member Johnson Agbonayinma filed a motion late on Thursday in which he said there was an “urgent need to investigate the over $17 billion stolen from undeclared crude oil and liquefied natural gas exports to global destinations”.

The house said a committee would be set up next week to investigate the allegations which involve “20 companies, two agencies of government, and the consultant appointed by the past administration (of former President Goodluck Jonathan)”.

Agbonayinma said most of the oil and liquefied natural gas ended up in the United States, as well as China and Norway. He also said around 58 million barrels of oil were missing.

Nigeria is in recession for the first time in over 20 years due to low oil prices and militant attacks on energy facilities in its Niger Delta region that cut crude production, which provides 70 percent of government revenues, by around a third. (Reporting by Camillus Eboh; Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; editing by Susan Thomas)