SERAP urges Tinubu to probe missing $15bn, N200bn oil revenue

SERAP (TheWill News Media)

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Bola Tinubu to unravel the missing US$15 billion oil revenues and N200 billion budgeted to repair the refineries between 2020 and 2021 as documented by a report published by Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).

According to the 2021 NEITI report, 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. It disclosed that NNPC and NPDC failed to remit over 70% of these public funds.

The body explained that the findings by NEITI suggests a grave violation of the public trust and the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] and the country’s obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption.

The organization told Tinubu that inability to track these missing funds would also create cynicism, suspicion and citizens’ distrust about the ability of his government to combat high-level official corruption, as well as deter foreign investment and limit growth and development of the nations economy..

In the letter dated 23 September 2023 and signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare, the body urged the President to set up a Presidential panel of inquiry to name and shame anyone suspected to be responsible for the missing and unaccounted public funds and ensure their effective prosecution as well as the full recovery of the funds. It also advised the President to implement all the recommendations by NEITI in the 2021 report.

“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 anti-graft body charged Tinubu.

It added that “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 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”.

SERAP further quoted NEITI as saying 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

It stated that 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 according to SERAP also showed 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 documented that about N200 billion was spent on refineries rehabilitation between 2020 and 2021 but lamented that “none of the refineries was operational in 2021 despite the spending.’ NEITI wants the spending to be investigated, as the money may be missing.”

SERAP stated that Section 13 of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] imposed clear responsibility on Tinubu’s government to conform, observe and apply the provisions of Chapter 2 of the constitution and Section 15(5) which imposes the responsibility on the 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.”

SERAP also reminded Tinubu that 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.

Techrectory with Agency Report.

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