THE Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked President Bola Tinubu to investigate the missing $15 billion and N200 billion from Nigeria’s oil revenues.
In a statement on Sunday, September 24, SERAP’s Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare called on Tinubu to “set up a presidential panel of enquiry to promptly probe the grim allegations that over $15 billion 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 also urged Tinubu to name and shame anyone suspected to be responsible for the funds and ensure their effective prosecution and full recovery of any proceeds of the crime.
On September 19, the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), in its 2021 report, revealed how 14 government agencies, including the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NNPC) and the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NPDC), failed to remit $9.85 billion in revenue to the federation account in one year.
NEITI said the unremitted funds accounted for 8.47 per cent of the federal government’s $23 billion total revenue during the year.
The organisation stated that NPCL failed to provide a clear account of $1.951 billion generated as revenue for the federal government in 2021.
The report, presented in Abuja, showed that $286. 423 million was unremitted export crude sales; $871.145 million unremitted domestic crude sales, $722.596 million LNG dividend, $859,583 miscellaneous revenue, $24.332 million transportation revenue, and $45.758 million unremitted domestic gas proceeds.
Reacting to NEITI findings, SERAP said the report suggested a grave violation of the public trust and the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended), national anti-corruption laws, and the country’s obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption.
It added that the allegations of corruption documented by NEITI undermined the country’s economic development, trapping the majority of Nigerians in poverty and depriving them of opportunities.
“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.
“Any failure to investigate these grave allegations, bring suspected perpetrators to justice and recover any missing public funds would have serious (effects on) resource allocation and exacerbate the country’s debt burden,” the statement read.
SERAP noted that Tinubu’s failure to take action against the agencies would create cynicism, suspicion, and eventually citizens’ distrust about the ability of his government to combat high-level official corruption, adding that it would deter foreign investment from the country.
SERAP further threatened legal action against the President should he fail to fully implement all the recommendations by NEITI in its 2021 report and recover the proceeds of crime within seven days.
“We would, therefore, be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within seven days of this letter’s receipt and/or publication. 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 statement added.
Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: email@example.com. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M