Thursday, 18 July, 2024

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Probe missing $15bn, N200bn of oil revenues, SERAP tells Tinubu


Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Bola Tinubu to “set up a presidential panel of enquiry to promptly probe the grim allegations that over US$15 billion of oil revenues, and N200 billion budgeted to repair the refineries are missing and unaccounted for between 2020 and 2021, as documented by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).”

SERAP urged him to “name and shame anyone suspected to be responsible for the missing and unaccounted for public funds and to ensure their effective prosecution as well as the full recovery of any proceeds of crime.”

SERAP also urged him “to fully implement all the recommendations by NEITI in its 2021 report, and to use any recovered proceeds of crime.”

SERAP said, “As President and Minister of Petroleum Resources, your office ought to be concerned about these damning revelations, by getting to the bottom of the allegations and ensuring that suspected perpetrators are promptly brought to justice, and any missing public funds fully recovered.”

The letter, read in part: “Any failure to investigate these grave allegations, bring suspected perpetrators to justice and recover any missing public funds would have serious resource allocation and exacerbate the country’s debt burden.”

“It would also create cynicism, suspicion, and eventually citizens’ distrust about the ability of your government to combat high-level official corruption, as well as deter foreign investment and limit growth and development.”

“We would therefore be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall consider appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.”

“The findings by NEITI suggest a grave violation of the public trust and the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], national anticorruption laws, and the country’s obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption.”

“The allegations of corruption documented by NEITI undermine economic development of the country, trap the majority of Nigerians in poverty and deprive them of opportunities.”

“Your government has a constitutional duty to ensure transparency and accountability in the spending of the country’s wealth and resources.”

“According to the 2021 report by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), government agencies including the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NNPC) and the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NPDC) failed to remit $13.591 million and $8.251 billion to the public treasury.”

“The NNPC and NPDC failed to remit over 70% of these public funds. NEITI wants both the NNPC and NPDC to be investigated, and for the missing public funds to be fully recovered.”

“The report also shows that in 2021, the State Owned Enterprises (SOE) and its subsidiaries (the NNPC Group) reportedly spent US$6.931billion on behalf of the Federal Government but without appropriation by the National Assembly. The money may be missing.”

“The NNPC also reportedly obtained a loan of $3 billion in 2012 purportedly to settle subsidy payments due to petroleum product marketers but there is no disclosure of the details of the loan, subsidy and the beneficiaries of the payments.”

“The report also shows that N9.73 billion was paid to the NNPC as pipeline transportation revenue earned from Joint Venture operations but the money was neither remitted to the Federation nor properly accounted for. The NPDC in 2021 also failed to remit $7.61 million realized from the sale of crude oil.”

“The report documents that about N200 billion was spent on refineries rehabilitation between 2020 and 2021 but “none of the refineries was operational in 2021 despite the spending.’ NEITI wants the spending to be investigated, as the money may be missing.”

“Section 13 of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] imposes clear responsibility on your government to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of Chapter 2 of the constitution. Section 15(5) imposes the responsibility on your government to ‘abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power’ in the country.”

“Under Section 16(1) of the Constitution, your government has a responsibility to ‘secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity.’”

“Section 16(2) further provides that, ‘the material resources of the nation are harnessed and distributed as best as possible to serve the common good.’”

“Similarly, articles 5 and 9 of the UN Convention against Corruption also impose legal obligations on your government to ensure proper management of public affairs and public funds, and to promote sound and transparent administration of public affairs.”

“The UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party obligate your government to effectively prevent and investigate the plundering of the country’s wealth and natural resources and hold public officials and non-state actors to account for any violations.”

“Specifically, article 26 of the UN convention requires your government to ensure ‘effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions’ including criminal and non-criminal sanctions, in cases of grand corruption.”

“Article 26 complements the more general requirement of article 30, paragraph 1, that sanctions must take into account the gravity of the corruption allegations.”

“Nigeria is also a participating state of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which aims to foster greater governmental accountability for the use of natural resource wealth through the creation of a set of international norms on revenue transparency.”

“EITI also aims to tackle corruption, poverty and conflict associated with natural resource wealth. Nigeria has the obligations to implement the EITI Standard, which sets out the transparency norms with which participating States including Nigeria must comply.”

Credit: Daily Sun

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