May 30, 2024

Missing $2.04bn, N164bn oil revenue: Seplat sues NNPCL

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Ilenre Irele

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has prepared a lawsuit against the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited over its “failure to account for and explain the whereabouts of the alleged missing $2.04 billion and N164 billion oil revenues.”

The development springs fromñ the allegations documented in the recently published 2020 audited report by the Auditor-General of the Federation that the NNPC; failed to remit the money into the Federation Account, saying that the money may have been diverted.

This was disclosed in a statement signed by the Deputy Director of SERAP, Kolawole Oluwadare, and made available to journalists on Sunday.

In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/549/2024 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court in Abuja, SERAP is seeking “an order of mandamus to direct and compel the NNPC to account for and explain the whereabouts of the missing USD$2.04 billion and N164 billion oil revenues, as documented in a report by the Auditor-General.”

In the statement, SERAP urged the NNPCL to “hand over suspected perpetrators to the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICP C) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for investigation and prosecution,” and “ensure the full recovery and remittance” of the missing funds into the Federation Account.

The organisation noted that the failure to account for the missing oil revenues reflects the nation’s oil giant’s “continuing failure to uphold the principles of transparency and accountability,” adding that it’s a “grave violation of the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended],” among others.

SERAP condemned the missing oil revenues, lamenting that “had the NNPCL and its subsidiaries accounted for and remitted the disappeared public funds into the Federation Account, it is likely that more funds would have been allocated to the fulfillment of economic and social rights of Nigerians, such as increased spending on public goods and services.

“The missing oil revenues have also impeded Nigerians’ ability to enjoy their economic and social rights, and denied them access to essential public goods and services, especially at the time of cost of living crisis in the country.”

In the suit, SERAP is arguing that “there is a legitimate public interest in providing the details sought. The NNPC has a legal responsibility to account for and explain the whereabouts of the disappeared money.

“Without the full recovery and remittance of the missing USD$2.04 billion and N164 billion oil revenues, the dire economic situation may worsen and Nigerians will continue to be denied access to basic public goods and services.”

According to SERAP, the Auditor-General of the Federation “has, for many years, documented reports of the disappearance of public funds from the NNPC,” while the AGF “fears that the money may have been diverted into private pockets, denying the government the funding needed to carry out its activities.

“The NNPCL reportedly failed and/or refused to remit N151,121,999,966. The NNPCL without any justification deducted the money from the oil royalties assessed for 2020 by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) now the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC),” among others.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

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