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Tax evasion: Reps set to probe Shell over N700bn gas project

The House of Representatives his set to
commence investigation into an alleged N7
billion tax evasion by Shell in the latter’s N700
billion gas project.
The probe, according to the chamber would
begin in a forthright when it would resume
from Sallah break.
The gas project is sited in Bayelsa State. Shell is
alleged to have contravened the Statutory
Development Permit (commonly called
Building Permit) as required under the
Nigerian Urban and Regional Planning Act CAP
138, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004;
the Petroleum Act of 1969 (CAP 350) First
schedule section 2 (3); paragraph 35 and
Petroleum (Drilling and Production) Reg­
ulations L.N 69 of 1969; Regulation 18.
The resolve to investigate the deal follows a
petition by Chidi David Adebanya, a former
Interface Manager of Shell Production
Development Company (SPDC), against officials
of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission
(EFCC) who he claimed allegedly demanded for
N120 million bribe from him.
The 280-page petition was sent to the House
Committee on Public Petition. It was laid on
the floor on behalf of Adebanya by member
representing Ezza North/ Ishielu Constituency,
Ebonyi State, Hon Peter Edeh. The gas project,
according to the petitioner “is the largest Shell
project in sub-Saharan Africa costing $4.2
billion (N700 billion) occupying a land area of 2
million sq.m (about half of Lagos Island) and
produces 1 billion scf (1,000,000,000 standard
cubic feet) of gas and 100,000 barrels of oil per
day earning about $30 million (N5 billion) daily
in revenue.”
Edeh urged the House to investigate two top
officers of the EFCC, “who were allegedly
involved in corrupt practices and official
The probe of the deal is being handled by the
House Committee on Public Petition headed by
Hon Uzor Azuibike (Abua, PDP).
Among other things the petitioner alleged that
Shell failed to pay various taxes worth N7
billion to Bayelsa State Government as building
permit fees on the Gbaran Ubie Integrated Oil
and Gas project in Gbarantoro LGA of the
The petitioner claimed: “Things took a bad turn
in June 2010 when Forstech reported SPDC for
underpayments to the Government of Bayelsa
State wherein the then governor, Timipre
Sylvia, raised an alarm on the N4.1 billion
underpayment to Bayelsa State Government
by SPDC.
“To avert international reputational damage
that the Forstech allegation of fraud and tax
evasion will cause, SPDC hurriedly put up a
petition against me alleging that I conspired
with Bayelsa State Government to defraud her
(SPDC) of the amounts so far paid and engaged
the service of EFCC to ‘help’ them recover the
payments so far made to the consultant. It is
not surprising that EFCC was a willing
collaborator given the SPDC styled cooperation
with EFCC”.
Adabanya who accused EFCC of corruption,
disclosed that one of the EFCC officials (name
withheld), had in October 2011 “demanded
N120 million from me to close the charade
allegations of Shell Petroleum Development
Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) against me.
He had said that it lies within his powers to
swing the case whichever way he chose, so I
should choose which way it will be because he
has to share the money with two other EFCC
officials and according to him, also make
returns to the Attorney General of the
Federation,before this matter can close. He
boasted that I dare not play smart by reporting
it because no one would believe it.”
He noted that in spite of the fact that the
Bayelsa State House of Assembly found the
SPDC guilty of fraud and tax evasion and had
passed a resolution on the matter urging Shell
to pay the said amount, the company refused
to do so up till date.
Adebanya stated that he did not know under
what section of the EFCC Act was Lamorde
restrained from arresting SPDC.
But in his defence, EFCC Chairman Ibrahim
Lamorde dismissed the allegation against the
agency as untrue.
Lamorde in a letter dated July 14, 2014, with
reference EFCC/EC/NA-HOR/06/51 and signed
by himself, declared that Adebanya has been
charged to court over the issue. He said the
litigation would not allow the two directors
accused of demanding the N120 million bribe
to appear before the Reps Committee: “While
we acknowledge the fact that the hearing is a
good opportunity to correct the gross
misinformation in the petition, there is no
doubt that we would be going against all ratio­
nal norms of natural justice and inviting
anarchy in the criminal justice sector if we
allow our directors of Operations and Legal
Departments to join issues with an accused
person at a public investigative hearing in this
matter without prejudicing the criminal case
before the court”.
However, Adabanya in another letter dated
July 24, 2014, addressed to the Chairman,
Public Petitions Committee and another dated
August 11, 2014 to Speaker Aminu Tambuwal
has countered Lamorde saying rather than
come and respond to the weighty allegations
against his agency before the House Com­
mittee, the EFCC chief is hiding under
He said: “Ibrahim Lamorde, Chairman of the
EFCC has no tenable response to the specific
issues of illegal acts of the Shell Petroleum
Development Company (SPDC), EFCC
corruption, abuse of office, official misconduct,
lack of due process, executive lawlessness
subversion and cover-ups under his watch,
which are facts I have raised and supported
with verifiable evidence. He seeks comfort in
rationalizations, name calling, abusiveness and
subjudice with the desperate hope to divert
attention from the subject matter.”
The House committee has invited both the
SPDC, the EFCC, the Bayelsa State Government
and other stakeholders to appear before it
after the Sallah break for further investi­

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