Lawyers threaten court action over NNPCL, AFREXIMBANK’s ‘illegal’ $3bn loan


By Olugbenga Salami

The $3 billion emergency loan recently secured on papers by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd., NNPCL from the African Export-Import Bank, AFREXIMBANK to stabilise the country’s foreign exchange market and crude oil repayment, has been declared illegal and unconstitutional by some lawyers.

The national oil company and the bank had on August 16 jointly signed a commitment letter and term sheet for the emergency loan.

The facility, according to them, will provide some immediate disbursement that will enable NNPCL to support the federal government in its ongoing fiscal and monetary policy reforms aimed at stabilising the exchange rate market.

But the group of lawyers under the umbrella of Constitutional Lawyers Forum, CLF, in a statement signed by its Convener, Hon. Barrister Agu Obe, wondered why the terms, conditions, and details regarding the loan were shrouded in secrecy.

They opined that the NNPCL Group Chief Executive Officer, Mele Kyari, was allegedly rushing to use the company to cover his incompetence and as well incur huge debts on Nigeria.

While calling for a forensic audit of the oil company, the lawyers threatened to head to court to stop Kyari from mortgaging the future of the oil sector and to stop him from parading himself as head of NNPCL, to avoid more irredeemable damage.

They added that the loan was a distractive move by Kyari to hang on to power by deceiving President Bola Tinubu and Nigerian people into believing he was helping to solve the problem while he was allegedly worsening it and trying to use it to hang on to power after running down NNPCL.

The lawyers said, “The African Export-Import Bank and investors have been warned to stay away from this loan because it’s illegal, unconstitutional and a secret deal to mortgage the commonwealth of Nigerian people by Mele Kyari, GCEO of NNPCL without the consent of Nigerian people who own all oil assets and still the biggest shareholders of NNPCL with FG holding the shares for the people, hence parliamentary approval required before NNPCL or FG can use the people’s oil wealth to borrow huge loan.

“The loan is a distractive move by Mele Kyari to hang on to power by deceiving the President and Nigerian people into believing he is helping to solve the problem while he is worsening it and trying to use it to hang on to power after running down NNPCL.

“The loan is illegal as the NNPCL shareholders and assets which is yet to be privatised belong to the Nigerian people with the federal govt holding it in trust for the Nigerian people according to the PIA, hence any deal to sell our national oil assets by way of taking advance loan in return for crude oil that is yet not produced requires express permission and approval of the National Assembly and not something Mele Kyari can proceed to conjure because NNPC is called NNPCL now.

“The NNPCL is yet to be privatised apart from the CAC registration, nothing has happen as the shares are intact and owned 100% by Nigerian people and FG is holding it for the people and nobody wether Mele Kyari or NNPCLcan mortgage the people’s asset without the approval of the parliament.

“NNPCL cannot borrow to stabilise the Naira when NNPCL is not CBN and has no such powers. NNPCL today has managed refineries repair that no single refinery under them is working.

“NNPCL contractors are being owed, there is no accounting clarity on crude sold, revenue generated. Under Kyari, crude theft and pipelines vandalism is now taking 60 per cent of our production, the industry under Kyari is smelling and NNPCL needs forensic audit and Kyari must step down.

“We are committed to this and we will fight until it’s achieved from advocacy to courtroom until Kyari and entire NNPCL management are shown the way out and NNPCL investigated fully.

“The agenda of President Tinubu to rescue the economy is going to be a charade with Mele Kyari still in office and the recommendation of the president economic policy team for appointment of competent hands and core professionals should be implemented now before its late by changing Kyari and all NNPCL management team.

“We have instructed our lawyers to start drafting the legal process to declare the loan illegal and stop AFREXIMBANK and investors from embarking on an illegal loan exercise that is unknown to Nigerian people and aimed at mortgaging our oil wealth without the people’s approval.”