N500bn looted funds recovered, says ICPC
Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
The controversial Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL) 245, reverberated yesterday in Abuja as an expert analysis of the deal revealed that Nigeria lost $6 billion in revenue since 2011, following poor negotiations and corruption that attended it, prompting Global Witness, a human rights and environmental advocate, to call on President Mohammadu Buhari to cancel the transaction.
The call for cancellation came as the Independent, Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) said it has so far recovered N500 billion looted funds in the country.
Speaking at an ‘Anti-corruption Situation Room and Public Presentation of a New Expert Analysis of the OPL 245 Deal and High Level Training of Stakeholders,’ organised by Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), a representative of the organisation, Barnapy Pace, called on the federal government to cancel the deal on the grounds that it short-changed the country.
Global Witness said the deal was based on “military era terms. The case is currently going on in Milan involving Shell, Eni and some Nigerian middlemen. It makes poor economic sense. We believe Nigerian government should cancel this deal”.
In his presentation, entitled “Government Revenue from OPL 245 Impact of a ‘Sole Risk’ Contract, a representative of Resource for Development Consulting, Canada, Dr. Don Hubert, said Nigeria’s share of the contract was far lower than what was expected.
“Giving the poor share of the deep oil water blocks; I would say that when it was allocated, it was tactically very challenging to work there and costly. A company like Shell knew they would make very good profit in deep water so I would say that Nigeria’s share of the block is far lower than what is expected.
“Our job was to ask the question: what is the economic impact on Nigeria but I would say that Nigeria’s share in deep oil water blocks fall well below what Nigeria should expect. I would say that the share of the revenue from the OPL 245 deal since 2011 fall well below what Nigeria should expect”, he said.
Meanwhile, the ICPC said it has recovered N500 billion looted funds so far. Speaking at the event, the Chairman of the commission, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, said when funds meant for security and health are diverted into private pockets, the nation suffers for it.
He said if 25 per cent of all stolen money was recovered it could be deployed in many areas of need in Nigeria. Owasanoye, who was represented by Dr. Esah Onojah, said the agency was concerned about illicit financial flows and was working hard to curb the trend.
“We are talking about OPL 245 where over $1billion was shared and those who should be watchdogs of the nation diverted it.
“We have recovered N500 billion so far. We at ICPC are concerned about illicit financial flows. We have a very active whistle-blowing policy and if 25 percent of all looted funds is recovered, it could be deployed to other areas of need in Nigeria”, he said.
Earlier in his opening remarks, Chairman of Human and Environmental Development Agenda, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju, said $6 billion meant for the benefit of Nigerians was not part of the deal. What was paid was $1 billion for private individuals and not to Nigerians. The deal short-changed Nigerians”, he said.
A representative of Action Aid, Newton Oshemaye, said the $1billion that went into private pockets would have built schools and lifted Nigerians out of poverty.