Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Bola Tinubu to set up a presidential panel of enquiry to probe the allegations contained in the recent reports of Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) that over US$15 billion and another N200 billion are missing and unaccounted for between 2020 and 2021.
SERAP described the allegations that US$15 billion of oil revenues and N200 billion budgeted to repair the refineries are missing and unaccounted for as a grave violation of the public trust and the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution.
Despite NEITI’s $1.9bn Under-remittance Claim, Federal Govt Owes NNPCL $9.74bn Fuel Subsidy Debt. The civil society organisation also called on president Tinubu to name and shame anyone suspected to be responsible for the missing and unaccounted-for public funds and to ensure their effective prosecution and the full recovery of any proceeds of crime.
SERAP, which made the demands in an open letter dated September 23, 2023, and signed by its deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, also gave the federal government a seven-day ultimatum to implement its requests or be ready to face legal action. It insisted that there is a legitimate public interest in ensuring justice and accountability for these severe allegations because when people faced the consequences of their actions, it would end the impunity.
SERAP further stated that failing to investigate the grave allegations and bring suspected perpetrators to justice and recover any missing public funds would exacerbate the country’s debt burden. The organisation also maintained that it would create cynicism, suspicion, and eventually citizens’ distrust about the ability of the government to combat high-level official corruption, deter foreign investment and limit growth and development.
It noted that NEITI findings suggest a grave violation of the public trust and the provisions of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, national anticorruption laws and the country’s obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption.
SERAP claimed that the 2021 NEITI report indicted many government agencies, including the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NNPC) Ltd and the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NPDC), for failing to remit $13.591 million and $8.251 billion to the public treasury.
It stated, “The NNPC and NPDC failed to remit over 70% of these public funds. NEITI wants the NNPC and NPDC to be investigated and the missing public funds fully recovered. “The report also shows that in 2021, the State Owned Enterprises (SOE) and its subsidiaries (the NNPC Group) reportedly spent US$ 6.931 billion 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 2021 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 costs.
“The report also shows that N9.73 billion was paid to the NNPC as pipeline transportation revenue earned from Joint Venture operations. However, the money was neither remitted to the Federation nor correctly accounted for. The NPDC in 2021 also failed to pay $7.61 million realised from the sale of crude oil.