The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Bola Tinubu to set up a presidential panel of enquiry to promptly probe the grim allegations that over US$15 billion of oil revenues, and N200 billion budgeted to repair the refineries are missing and unaccounted for between 2020 and 2021, as documented by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).
SERAP urged the President to “name and shame anyone suspected to be responsible for the missing and unaccounted for public funds and to ensure their effective prosecution as well as the full recovery of any proceeds of crime.”
SERAP also urged Tinubu “to fully implement all the recommendations by NEITI in its 2021 report, and to use any recovered proceeds of crime.”
In the letter dated 23 September 2023 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said there was a legitimate public interest in ensuring justice and accountability for these serious allegations, adding that taking these important measures would end the impunity of perpetrators.
SERAP said, “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 letter read in part: “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 findings by NEITI suggest a grave violation of the public trust and the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], national anticorruption laws, and the country’s obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption.
“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.
“According to the 2021 report by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), 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.
“The NNPC and NPDC failed to remit over 70% of these public funds. NEITI wants both the NNPC and NPDC to be investigated, and for the missing public funds to be fully recovered.
“The report also shows 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. The money may be missing.
“The 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 also shows 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 documents that about N200 billion was spent on refineries rehabilitation between 2020 and 2021 but “none of the refineries was operational in 2021 despite the spending.’ NEITI wants the spending to be investigated, as the money may be missing.
“Section 13 of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] imposes clear responsibility on your government to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of Chapter 2 of the constitution. Section 15(5) imposes the responsibility on your 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.
“The UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party obligate your government to effectively prevent and investigate the plundering of the country’s wealth and natural resources and hold public officials and non-state actors to account for any violations.
“Specifically, article 26 of the UN convention requires your government to ensure ‘effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions’ including criminal and non-criminal sanctions, in cases of grand corruption.
“Article 26 complements the more general requirement of article 30, paragraph 1, that sanctions must take into account the gravity of the corruption allegations.
“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.
“EITI also aims to tackle corruption, poverty and conflict associated with natural resource wealth. Nigeria has the obligations to implement the EITI Standard, which sets out the transparency norms with which participating States including Nigeria must comply.
We’re Determined To Achieve Rivers Of Our Dreams -Fubara …Tasks Rivers People On Peaceful, Harmonious Relationship
Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, says his administration is determined to enthrone an enviable Rivers that satisfies the dreams and aspirations of all residents.
To achieve the feat, Fubara charged all residents to embrace peace, exhibit mutual harmony among themselves and meaningfully contribute their quota to achieve designated developmental activities that will eventually benefit the State.
The governor stated this at the funeral service in honour of late King Theophilus J.T. Princewill, Amachree XI, the Amanyanabo and Natural Ruler of the Kalabari Kingdom, which was held at the King Amachree Square in Buguma Town, Asari Toru Local Government Area, yesterday.
A statement by the governor’s Senior Special Assistant on Media, Boniface Onyedi, quoted Fubara as saying, ”We are in a difficult period but just be peaceful. We cannot achieve progress in an environment of violence. We cannot grow our State to the level of our aspirations when there is trouble.”
“We can only advance to our dream State in a peaceful environment. I urge every one of you to be peaceful. Peace is the only instrument that can bring development,”
The governor applauded the level of cooperation seen between the bereaved family and the entire Kalabari people through the various stages of preparations leading to the eventual burial of their late king to the disappointment of those who had predicted crisis.
He urged the Kalabari people to continue to live in peace even after the burial of their late king, adding that nobody in the State should lose hope because his administration is committed not to disappoint, regarding all their expectations.
In his sermon, the intercontinental Youth Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Belemina Obunge, who represented the General Overseer of the Church, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, preached on the topic: “Don’t wait until you’re late”, harped on the need for people to seek God fervently, serve him truthfully while also living peaceably with neighbours in their various community.
Senate Leader Faults N9.9trn Recurrent Expenditure In 2024 Budget Proposal
Senate Leader, Bamidele Opeyemi, says the N9.9 trillion recurrent expenditure in the N27.5 trillion 2024 budget proposal is too high, as it constitutes 43 per cent of the budget.
Opeyemi said this at the opening of debate on general principles of the budget at plenary in Abuja, yesterday.
He said that the total fiscal operations of the Federal Government would result in N9.8 trillion deficit, representing 3.88 per cent of estimated GDP, saying that this was above the three per cent threshold set by the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007.
Opeyemi listed highlights of the budget to include oil price benchmark of 77.96 dollars per barrel and daily oil production estimate of 1.78 million barrels of condensates of 300,000 to 400,000 barrels per day and exchange rate of N750 to dollar.
He said based on the fiscal assumptions and parameters, total federally-collectible revenue was N16.87 trillion in the budget, while total federally distributable revenue was N11.09 trillion
Opeyemi said total revenue available to fund the 2024 budget was N9.73 trillion, which included revenues from 63 government-owned enterprises, while oil revenue was projected at N1.92 trillion, with non-oil taxes at N2.43 trillion among others.
He said to finance the deficit would result in new borrowings totaling N7.83 trillion in addition to N294.49 billion expected from privatisation.
He said the deficit would also be financed from N1.06 trillion drawn from bilateral, multilateral loans secured for specific development projects programmes.
He, however, said there was a growing concern over continued borrowing, but the administration resorted to it to finance fiscal gaps.
“But let me state here that the debt level of the federal government is still within sustainable limits.
“Very importantly, these loans are used to finance critical development projects and programmes aimed at improving our economic environment and ensuring effective delivery of public services to our people,” he said.
Contributing, Sen.Osita Ngwu (PDP-Enugu)said President Bola Tinubu had fulfilled his promises by capturing food security, poverty allivation in the budget.
He said there was need to ensure a review of Petroleum Industry Act(PIA) to ensure the continuous ramp up of oil production to fund the deficit in the budget.
Senators, who contributed to the debate, commended the President for the budget, saying it was a budget of renewed hope.
NDDC Laments Unpaid N2trn Allocation
The Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Sam Ogbuku, on Wednesday, said the interventionist agency is being owed remittances totalling over N2trillion by the Federal Government.
Ogbuku disclosed this when he appeared before the House of Representatives’ Committee on NDDC, chaired by Ibori-Suenu Erhiatake.
According to him, the amount is the accumulation of 15 per cent of the allocation of the nine states that make up the region, due to the commission since 2000.
He noted that in spite of the passage of the agency’s annual budget in 2021, 2022 and 2023; the funds were yet to be remitted.
“I want to raise an important issue. When we talk about funding, the NDDC Act says the monthly allocation from the Federal Government is 15 per cent of the allocation of nine states of the Niger Delta. But I can assure you that since the inception of the NDDC, it has not got that.
“The Federal Government only budgets what it wants to give to the NDDC for that year and they give it that year. If you look at the 15 per cent, we are not getting it. Even with the removal of fuel subsidy and with the increment of state allocation, the NDDC is still where it is. So, these are issues we want you to help us resolve and we have done our calculation that from 2000 to date we can say we are being owed over N2trn from what is supposed to be due NDDC.
“We also came in at a point when the NDDC never had a budget for 2021, 2022 and 2023. These budgets were before the National Assembly and we had to fast-track the passage of those budgets and those budgets were eventually passed in April this year. However, since the budget was passed, it has not been handed over to us up till now. We pray and plead with you to ensure that as fast as possible, you also facilitate the process for us to have the budget because the budget year is already coming to an end,” he said.
In his own contribution, the Chairman of the NDDC Board, Chiedu Ebie, said the board would work together to reposition the commission in the interest of the oil-producing states and Nigeria at large.
Responding, Erhiatake said issues raised by the agency would be addressed in no distant time.
“It is very important we create a platform for synergy in the implementation of these policies and programmes for the general benefit of Nigerians and especially the people of the Niger Delta. I assure you that this committee is willing and ready to partner with you to make sure that the dividends of democracy are brought to the region and the narratives that had been set by the previous board are changed for the better.”
Meanwhile, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has advised officials of the NDDC to be abreast of anti-graft laws so as not to step out of line.
The ICPC Zonal Commissioner for Rivers and Bayelsa states, Mrs. Ekere Usiere, gave the advice during a sensitisation programme organised by the NDDC at its headquarters in Port Harcourt.
A statement on Wednesday by the Director, Corporate Affairs of the NDDC, Pius Ughakpoteni, said Usiere spoke on the topic: “Understanding the Offences and Penalties Under the ICPC Act 2000.”
It also quoted the Head, Legal Department of ICPC in Rivers State, Dr Agada Akogwu, as saying, “Every public servant should take the ICPC Act as a Bible and internalise all its tenets. That is why the NDDC deserves commendation for organising a sensitization programme for its staff.”
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