The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has called on President Bola Tinubu to launch an investigation into allegations of missing and unaccounted-for funds totaling over $15bn in oil revenues and N200bn budgeted for refinery repairs between 2020 and 2021.
These allegations were documented by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative in its 2021 report.
The report stated that government agencies, including the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Limited and the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, are accused of failing to remit $13.591m and $8.251bn to the public treasury.
NEITI contends that both NNPC and NPDC failed to remit more than 70 percent of these public funds.
However, in a letter dated September 23, signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization urged President Tinubu to identify and hold accountable anyone suspected of involvement in the disappearance of public funds and to ensure their effective prosecution, along with the full recovery of any ill-gotten gains.
It further advised the President “to fully implement all the recommendations by NEITI in its 2021 report and to use any recovered proceeds of crime,” pointing out that, “There is a legitimate public interest in ensuring justice and accountability for these serious allegations. Taking these important measures would end the impunity of perpetrators.”
“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,” SERAP said.
The group warned that “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,” it added.
“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,” SERAP further warned.
It stated that, “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,” adding that, “Your government has a constitutional duty to ensure transparency and accountability in the spending of the country’s wealth and resources.”