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NEITI partners EFCC to prosecute financial defaulters

 …lost $599.8m to under-payment of assets

The Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, yesterday expressed confidence in its crusader function of transparency and accountability, as it is currently working with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to tackle financial crimes in the country’s oil and gas sector.

This is against claims of being reckoned as toothless bulldog in crime fighting and effecting changes from what was investigated as controversial or un-reconcile financials.

The Director of Communications, NEITI, Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, made this disclosure at the ongoing training in Oil and Gas Reporting, organized by the Natural Resource Governance Institute, NRGI, in collaboration with the School of Media and Communication, Pan-Atlantic University, Wole Soyinka Institute for Investigative Journalism and Premium Times.

Speaking on the presentation, titled; Introduction to NEITI reports and data, Orji, stated that crude oil sale, which is the country’s major foreign exchange earner, has remained plagued with lack of transparency and corruption allegations in nearly every administration.

According to him, “it has always been speculated that we don’t have teeth to bite, and right now we’ve gone to the EFCC to borrow one. There were some aspects of our reports that borders on financial crimes, and NEITI is currently trying to develop a memorandum of understanding with the EFCC for it to help in investigating financial discrepancies.

“Our mandate does not include prosecution after our findings, that is why we are presenting our reports to the EFCC and they are looking at the areas where they are infractions.”

Also, he stated that about $599.8 million of assets was under-assessed and under-paid by companies due to contested pricing methodology.

“Eight Oil Mining Lease, OML, assigned to Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC from Shell JV between 2010 and 2011 were valued at $1.8 billion but only $100 million was paid leaving an outstanding of $1.7billion.

“No reason were given for the transfer other than exercise of Ministers legal authority and development of NPDC, upstream capacity.”

He further stated that total crude oil production in 2013 averaged 800.49million barrel per day, mbb, which total revenue earned amounted to $58.07 billion.

However, outstanding revenue to the Federation account from the NNPC, stood at $3.787billion (N358.3 billion) with losses to the federation due to crude swap, theft, others hit $5.966billion (N20.4 billion).

It was gathered that the alleged missing fund was kept in NNPC’s coffer for running cost in the commission.

NEITI, urged the NNPC to “abide by federal government financial regulation and always comply with the 90- days credit period; NNPC should discontinue alternative importation arrangements and limits itself to export of crude and import of refined products.

“Government should investigate the status of NLNG dividends and NNPC, DPR, FIRS, OAGF, CBN, should prioritize remedial issues identified in their operations.”

Orji also explained that NEITI’s stands at the core of its independence of government influence, despite receiving 90 per cent of its funding from the federal government.

“No administration has ever tried to suppress our independence. No government has tried to censor our report,” he said.

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