By Chineme Okafor and Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has started scrutinizing the 2013 audit report of financial and process flows into Nigeria’s extractive industries prepared by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) which alleged that billions of dollars was not remitted to the federation account.
The EFCC according to a statement from NEITI in Abuja yesterday, has in this regard set up a joint task force to study the report and identify areas where financial crimes had been committed against Nigeria by operators in her oil, gas and solid minerals industries.
It stated in the statement signed by NEITI’s Director of Communications, Orji Ogbonnanya Orji that the Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu made the decision to investigate the content of the report after receiving copies of the reports from NEITI’s Executive Secretary, Waziri Adio.
Magu, it noted, explained that it was no longer acceptable for NEITI to publish reports and agencies, companies and individuals that have clearly committed financial crimes as disclosed by the reports left to go without sanctions.
“I have heard people say that NEITI has no teeth to bite, but today I assure you that by our renewed joint collaboration, the EFCC will provide NEITI with the required teeth to bite,” Magu was quoted to have said.
He also advised members of the task force to carry out the assignments with utmost diligence by developing an action plan for the commission to work with.
Adio on his part lamented that while NEITI has been churning out series of audit reports since 2004, no one has either been tried or convicted for economic infractions.
He thus called on the EFCC to step in and help NEITI enforce required sanctions as contained in the NEITI Act.
He also explained that through the NEITI process, information and data contained in its reports are based on facts voluntarily provided and signed up by covered entities during the audit process.
According to him, the recent report on oil, gas and solid minerals for the period 2013 highlighted several issues that require full scale investigations by the EFCC.
NEITI’s visit to and collaboration with the EFCC follows its presentation and debate of the audit reports for the first time to the Nigerian Senate at plenary.
The Senate had after Adio’s presentation of the report and its debate, set up a nine member committee headed by Senator Jubril Barau, Chairman Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) to study and advise it on the necessary legislative actions it can take on it.
NEITI had in the 2013 audit of operations in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry flagged off several operational anomalies allegedly committed against the country either by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) or other independent operators.
The agency in the report disclosed that the NNPC has not remitted $12.9 billion it received from the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) as dividend in eight years to the government, though the NNPC has provided an explanation on how parts of the money was spent by it.
NEITI also said the sums of $5.966 billion and N20.4 billion were lost by the country within the period majorly from NNPC’s operation of Offshore Processing Agreements (OPA), crude oil swap arrangements and products’ theft, and that the sums of $3.8 billion and N358.3 billion were still outstanding payments due to the federation from the NNPC and all of its subsidiaries from its operations amongst others.
In a related development, the NEITI’s Executive Secretary, Waziri Adio, has expressed the readiness of his agency to collaborate with the EFCC, in tackling corruption in the country by reporting serious infractions that violate the country’s constitution.
Adio stated this yesterday during a courtesy visit to the acting Chairman EFCC, Ibrahim Magu at the Commission’s Head Office, Abuja.