UK: Nigeria’s Anti-corruption Effort Frustrated by Lack of Synergy among Agencies

Theresa May

*NNPC recovers N771m from dubious petroleum marketers

By Chineme Okafor in Abuja

Nigeria’s efforts to stem official corruption over the years have been hampered by the failure of the relevant government bodies set up to combat graft to synergise and work in unison, the British Council (BC), an agency of the United Kingdom (UK) government, has said.

According to the BC, Nigeria’s anti-corruption agencies, including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) which recently gained independence from the EFCC, have continued to work in silos, thus frustrating the fight against corruption.

The Program Manager of the Rule of Law and Anti-corruption (RoLAC) Programme of the British Council, Mr. Uche Emmanuel, made the Disclosure at a workshop organised for anti-corruption agencies and law enforcement officers by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI); European Union (EU) and the British Council, Tuesday in Abuja.

The disclosure coincided with the revelation by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that it had recovered assets worth over N771 million from some oil marketers who had under-paid it for petroleum products supplied to them from the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) Kaduna Depot.

Speaking at the workshop, which was initiated to educate anti-corruption and law enforcement agencies on the need to push further NEITI’s mandate in Nigeria’s extractive sectors, Emmanuel, noted that most often, the anti-corruption agencies take up isolated and high profile corruption cases without recourse to each other for cooperation.

“The challenge is that most of us continue to work in silos. Most of the agencies that have been instituted to fight corruption, not just work in silos but many of them are working at what I call the micro level.

“They are so fixated on their primary mandate, and I said this to them at the EFCC in-house retreat they had last week, that they are so fixated on their primary mandate and forget the big picture,” said Emmanuel, in his assessment of the country’s anti-corruption fight.

He added: “Several times, we could get so fixated pursuing one very high level corruption case, pursuing one highly exposed person forever and get all the media attention, but you are set up to impact a country of 200 million people, and so one isolated mega case will not take us to where we are going, and you cannot do it in a silo. Nobody can live in an island; you definitely need to work with people.”

Also speaking at the meeting, the NEITI Executive Secretary, Mr. Waziri Adio, stated that revenue leakages in the extractive sector hadnyielded minimal results as regards stemming the tides because the law enforcement and anti-corruption agencies do not take interest inits periodic reports.

Adio explained that the agencies could for instance, take up NEITI’s recent report on monies Nigeria has not been able to gain from its failure to review a 1993 Production Sharing Contract (PSC) regulation despite existing clauses that guarantee such review.

Adio, said: “We need to come to the table with knowledge. Our job in NEITI is to produce reports and we have done that and put in the public domain. Where our work stops is where the works of others start, but does that happen all the time? Not necessarily.

“We would love a situation where we can go beyond just the reports, stimulate the debate, implement reforms, investigate and prosecute. We need to put a price on bad behaviour. We need to collaborate to ensure these bad practices stop. And we can look at it from an output-input framework. Our work as important as it is, if you don’t use it, it is then useless,” he said.

Meanwhile, the NNPC said in a statement sent by its Group General Manager, Public Affairs, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, that the recovered assets from dubious oil marketers, was done with supports from the Department of State Security Services (DSS); EFCC; and ICPC.

It said its anti-corruption committee led by Mr. Mike Balami, brought in forensic experts to uncover the shady deals by some of the marketers affected.

The statement quoted Balami as saying that some of the assets recovered included filling stations, water factories and six sports utility vehicles. Balami added that forensic investigation would be extended to other petroleum products depots across the country.

According to him, it was established that the affected marketers lifted petroleum products from the PPMC Kaduna depot without evidence of payment and when confronted with the evidence they admitted to the offence and failed to pay their liabilities.

He equally explained that NNPC Group Managing Director, Dr. Maikanti Baru, was passionate about stopping all the leakages in the corporation, stressing that the forfeited assets would be handed over to NNPC Corporate Asset Boarding and Disposal Committee (CABDC) for immediate disposal.

Balami, noted that investigations into lifting of petroleum products without evidence of payment would continue, and urged all relevant stakeholders to support the anti-corruption committee to recover such monies outside NNPC’s system.

He claimed this was the first time the NNPC would be taking over assets forfeited by marketers who defaulted in their terms of engagement.