Nigerian lawmakers are investigating alleged payments to Nigeria totaling $18 billion, said to be dividends from the country’s investment in Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) between 2004 and 2019.

The LNG Limited is a liquefied natural gas-producing company and a liquefied natural gas plant on Bonny Island, Nigeria.

The NLNG is a consortium between state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Eni, Total and Royal Dutch Shell.

Incorporated in 1989 to produce liquefied natural gas and natural gas liquids for export, the NLNG was Nigeria’s first LNG project. Shell holds a 25.6% share, together with NNPC (49%), Total (15%) and ENI (10.4%)

Last weekend, the Senate ordered Nigeria’s accountant general to investigate the dividend payments. The upper house, in a statement it issued after the order, did give details of what wrongdoing, if any, it was dealing with.

“The accountant general was mandated to investigate among other things if the amount was actually remitted to Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), how much was actually remitted to the Federation Account, if there is any deduction by NNPC, how much was deducted and who authorized the deductions,” it said in the statement.

The NLNG officials had appeared before the senate committee as part of preparations for the 2021 to 2023 federal budget. NLNG general manager, external relations, Eyono Fatai–William, presented a financial summary of the company in which she said it had paid a dividend of over $18 billion to Nigeria from 2004-2019.

Reuters quoted Nigeria’s Accountant General Ahmed Idris, saying it was “difficult to determine with any certainty” the details of the dividend paid to NNPC. The chairman of the committee told Idris to investigate the payments and report back to the Senate in two weeks.

The Senators have ramped up their scrutiny of financial management issues since President Muhammadu Buhari came to office in 2015 vowing to plug leakages in state coffers.

By Chibisi Ohakah, Abuja

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