Abuja: A major scam persisted in Nigeria`s fuel subsidy system and state fund was defrauded of USD six billion in two years as companies won major contracts in murky deals, a report adopted by the lower parliament states.
After a massive protest that brought the oil-rich West African country`s economy to a halt in January following an announcement that fuel subsidy would be removed, the parliament commenced probe into how the fund was administered.
"There are recommendations that would ensure that the acts of impunity are not repeated. Those far reaching recommendations, if adopted will start sensitisation process in the oil industry," the chairman of the committee that probed the subsidy, Farouk Lawan said before tabling the reports.
He said he discovered a collusion between government agencies and marketers.
"For instance, the office of the accountant general of the federation approved the payment of Nigerian Naira 999 million 128 times within 24 hours," he said.
The result was a 205-page report which showed that 15 oil companies including the state-controlled Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC) were paid USD 300 m over a period of two years whereas they did not import any petroleum products.
Up to 100 oil marketers were also paid the same amount.
During the sitting today, 18 companies were told by the House of Representatives to appear before it for questioning within two weeks.
"The NNPC should be given a time frame within which to return all the money they collected as subsidy," Abike Dabiri-Erewa, a parliamentarian told her peers during the session.
The parliamentarians will continue to debate on what to do to the defaulters tomorrow even though most of them including Exxon Mobile subsidiary have said they are innocent of any wrong doing.
Nigeria is Africa`s largest producer of oil but majority of its citizens live below USD 3 a day.
Infrastructures are largely neglected while government officials are seen to be highly corrupt.