EFCC Investigates NNPCL’s Kyari, Ajiya Over Multi Billion-naira Gratuities


There is palpable anxiety at the topmost rung of management of the new commercially-driven national energy company, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), as the nation’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has launched an investigation into the alleged payment of multi-billion gratuities to former directors of the defunct Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and those who transited from the old corporation to the new company.


An online newspaper, SaharaReporters, had on April 12, 2023 published an exclusive report about fresh crisis in the NNPCL in the aftermath of the decision by the Chief Executive Officer, Mele Kyari and Chief Financial Officer, Umar Ajiya, to pay themselves billion of naira as gratuities for their services in the defunct NNPC.


It quoted a source to have said: “Isn’t this corruption? Our Group Chief Executive Officer, Mele Kyari, and the Chief Financial Officer, Umar Ajiya, paid themselves gratuities running into billions of naira while still in active service, which is against the public service rules.”


THE CONCLAVE reports that what was not clear as of the time SaharaReporters broke the story was whether the gratuities were paid before the old NNPC wound down or they were paid after the transition of the duo to the NNPCL from the coffers of the new national energy company.


The report had prompted the NNPCL to issue a statement penultimate week clarifying that both Kyari and Ajiya positions and services as Group Managing Director and Group Executive Director (Finance and Accounts) of the old NNPC respectively had ended with the winding down of the old NNPC and that their positions in the NNPCL as CEO and CFO respectively were new appointments that came into effect on September 16, 2021, and tenured for five years.


Just as the report by SaharaReports was silent on the amount paid as gratuities, the NNPCL statement, issued by the Chief Communications Officer of the company, Garbadeen Mohammed, also was silent on the figures.


Whereas the issue of gratuities and the exact amounts received have remained the Elephant in the room as no specific figure has been indicated as the amount paid.


This is the puzzle that the EFCC wants to untangle through its investigation.


From feelers emanating from the Commission’s Headquarters in Jabi, Abuja, the NNPCL Chief Executive Officer, Mele Kyari, had been formally notified of the Commission’s investigation activities around the payment of gratuities to officers of director’s level and above.


THE CONCLAVE learnt that the Commission’s Director of Operations, Abdulkarim Chukkol, had requested Mele Kyari to release the Chief Officer (Human Capital) and the Chief Financial Officer for an interview on Wednesday, April 26, 2023.


They will interact with the Commission’s head of Foreign Exchange Malpractices Section on a wide range of issues connected with the alleged payment of gratuities.


The newspaper further learnt that the Commission had requested that the duo should come for the interview with Certified True Copies of entitlements and retirement benefits of directors and above; evidence of payments of gratuities to the Group Managing Director, Director Accounts or any other director of the company.


They are also expected to arm themselves with details of accounts where such payments were made, if any; and any other relevant information that could assist the investigation.


This is the first time that the anti-graft agency would beam its searchlight on the activities of the NNPCL and take necessary steps to follow it through.


The unprecedented investigation, according to feelers on Tuesday, may have signaled the beginning of business unusual with the news NNPCL being subjected to a baptism of fire.


Recall that the old NNPC had only been subjected to invitations by the National Assembly in pursuit of its oversight function and the old NNPC had ensured that it frustrated the legislative action in defence of its opaque business operations and financial transactions.


It was learnt that the incoming President, Senator Bola Tinubu, is going to ensure that the NNPCL is not run the way the old NNPC was run.


He is said to have a template for ensuring commercial viability of the NNPCL and also to ensure that the operations of the behemoth company are transparently run in the interest of Nigerians and the nation.



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