Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Nigeria: Forthcoming fuel subsidy report reveals £4 million fraud

Nigeria's parliament is to debate a 200 page parliamentary report, which reveals that £4 million has been defrauded from the fuel subsidy fund in the past two years. The discussion, to be broadcast live, will be disclosing findings that have been leaked in recent days.

The inquest followed nationwide protests in January after the government tried to remove the subsidy. Despite being one of the biggest oil producers in Africa, Nigeria imports most of its fuel.
The report uncovers a number of alleged offenses involving oil retailers, Nigeria's Oil Management Company and the state Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation.

According to the leaks, a total of 15 fuel importers received more than $300 million two years ago without importing any fuel, while more than 100 oil marketers collected the same amount of money on several occasions. It has been reported that officials in the government of President Goodluck Jonathan were among those who benefited.

Many of those named have denied the allegations, with some advertising their innocence in local newspapers. According to some experts, Nigeria's lawmakers might adopt some of the findings because of the on-going public outcry over the attempt to withdraw the subsidy, which was deemed economically unsustainable by the government.

The annual $8 billion subsidy means fuel prices in Nigeria are lower than those in neighbouring countries. Following a week of street protest and a general strike across the country, the government agreed to restore some of the subsidy and reduce the price of fuel.

President Jonathan, however, defended the cut, saying in order for Nigeria to “survive economically” it was necessary to “deregulate” the subsidy regime.

Sources: BBC News, Reuters, WSJ

For more news and expert analysis about Nigeria, please see Nigeria Focus and Nigeria Politics & Security.

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