The Senate yesterday asked its Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) to investigate alleged irregularities in the oil and gas sector lease renewal.

The upper chamber said the lease renewal being undertaken by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), has led to massive loss of revenue.

It said the Committee should submit its findings within four weeks as well identify appropriate measures to correct the alleged anomalies.

The resolution followed the consideration of a motion titled: “Irregularities in the Ongoing Oil and Gas Lease Renewal and Massive Loss of Government Revenue,” was sponsored by Senator Omotayo Alasoadura (Ondo Central) and co-sponsored by senators Baba Kaka Bashir Garbai (Borno Central), James Manager (Delta South) and Gershom Bassey (Cross River South).

Alasoadura in his lead debate noted that the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources Upstream had since December last year been inundated with a plethora of petitions and complaints and had observed that there were multiplicity of irregularities surrounding ongoing renewal of oil and gas leases being undertaken by Dr Kachikwu and DPR.

The lawmaker alleged that the Dr Kachikwu was “granting all manner of illegal discounts and rebates in the process of the ongoing renewal of the leases.”

He expressed worry that the action of Kachikwu was capable of short-changing the country and denying the federation the appropriate revenue accruable from the renewal of the said leases.

Alasoadura further alleged that the minister and DPR  were proceeding to renew leases of companies that had “brazenly and illegally refused to pay royalties due to government from oil and gas lifted by the said companies in contravention of extant laws.”

He said: “Under the provision of extant laws, failure to pay royalties is a ground for revocation of leases and a legal barrier to renewal of applicable leases.”

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