Boat Mishap: Single Family Loses 14 Members To Drowning

  • As Reps says NNPC, Customs, NIMASA, others have cases to answer on Alleged $17bn stolen crude

A single family, on Friday lost 14 household members, comprising women and children to drowning, after a boat they were traveling capsized in a deep pond in Southern India, local police said on Saturday.

The accident occurred in a village in the Guntakal region of Andhra Pradesh state on Friday evening when the group was taking a joyride on a fishing boat.

Local police inspector Gurunath Babu said that the boat possibly capsized due to overcrowding, but the exact cause of the accident was still being investigated.

“The victims include six women, plus eight children all under the age of 15.

“Two men were able to swim to safety while one child was rescued by locals,” Babu said.

The people who had hired the boat belonged to an extended family that had come to attend a religious ceremony at a local temple.

Every year, scores of people drown in boat tragedies across India, which are mostly blamed on overcrowding, poor maintenance of vessels and lax safety rules.

In January, 25 people died when a boat sank in the Ganges river in the eastern state of Bihar.

In the meantime, no fewer than 76 organisations, including International Oil Companies, still have queries to answer over the alleged export of $17bn undeclared crude and gas resources from the country between 2011 and 2014, The PUNCH learnt on Sunday.

Among them are key government agencies like the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation; the Department of Petroleum Resources; the Nigerian Ports Authority; the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency; and the Nigeria Customs Service.

At least, 50 oil companies have either not made attempt to respond to inquiries on the issues or have completely shunned the investigative panel set up by the House of Representatives.

An ad hoc committee of the House is investigating the alleged theft.

Findings by The PUNCH showed that the committee, which is chaired by a member of the All Progressives Congress from Adamawa State, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, had so far received unsatisfactory replies from the NNPC, the DPR and other agencies.

A report of the committee, analysing the response level of agencies and IOCs, showed for instance that the NNPC would be “re-invited” because the documents it submitted to the committee did not convincingly address the crude and gas theft.

The report, which The PUNCH obtained in Abuja on Sunday, stated, “DPR to come back with DG and operational manager.

“NPA to come back with MD/management officers.

“Central Bank of Nigeria was excused; it will be re-invited.”

A second category of agencies are tagged by the committee as “agencies that did not attend” its public hearing on the alleged theft.

Top on the list are NIMASA, the NCS, National Petroleum Investment Management Services, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and Molecular Power Systems Limited.

The report also indicated that many IOCs, summoned by the committee, either did not supply the required documents or were unable to defend their submissions.

As a result, it was gathered that the committee turned them away and fixed a re-appearance date.

For instance, the report stated that Total Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited was directed to “bring record of tax payments and other documents” covering the period under investigation.

It added, “ExxonMobil, dismissed for lack of competent delegate.

“Sahara Energy Resources Limited to provide evidence of tax payment.

“Chevron Nigeria Limited dismissed for lack of competent delegate.

“Oando Trading Limited to come back with evidence of profit tax payment and others.”

Among the 50 companies that did not appear at all are Shell Western Supply and Trading; AITEO Energy Resources Limited; AITEO Eastern Exploration and Production Limited; Star Deep Water Petroleum Limited; and Total Upstream Production Limited.

Others are Petrobras; Trafigura; SNEPCO; Sterling Oil Exploration and Energy; Consolidated Oil Limited, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited; and Duke Oil Company Limited.

Additional report from Punch