September 25, 2023

SERAP to Tinubu: Probe missing $15bn, N200bn oil revenues

Atiku's attack on Tinubu

By Olasunkanmi Akoni

LAGOS—THE Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, yesterday, urged President Bola Tinubu to set up a presidential panel of enquiry to probe the alleged missing and unaccounted $15 billion of oil revenues, and N200 billion budgeted to repair the refineries between 2020 and 2021, as documented by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI.

SERAP also urged the President to name and shame anyone suspected to be responsible for the missing funds to ensure the full recovery of any proceeds of crime and implement all the recommendations by NEITI in its 2021 report.

The organisation, in a statement by its Deputy Director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, said: “There is a legitimate public interest in ensuring justice and accountability for these serious allegations. Taking these important measures would end the impunity of perpetrators.”

The statement reads: “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.

“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 the 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 per cent 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 $ 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 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.”