The National Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has revealed the plan to recover the sum of N1.3 trillion from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and other multi-national companies.
The Federal Government’s bid to recover its debt owed by the NNPC was contained in a statement issued at the end of the NEITI retreat in Abuja.
The statement quoted the President as pledging that an inter-ministerial task team would be charged with the responsibility of ensuring the full implementation of NEITI audit report findings.
President Jonathan stated that the task team would comprise high-ranking government officials as well as government agencies that are saddled with either the responsibility of collecting or managing Nigeria’s oil and gas revenue.
Jonathan described NEITI as an important anti-corruption agency in the oil and gas sector whose report, findings and recommendations should be implemented to set the tone for the oil and gas sector.
The President again re-assured the nation that his administration has no intention to “cover up any ascertained misdeeds revealed by various fact-finding panels and probes in the extractive industry.”
President Jonathan also disclosed that he had given necessary directives to all Ministries, Agencies and Departments of government and all companies covered by NEITI activities that NEITI should be given “open and unrestricted support” to carry out its statutory functions in view of the strategic importance of the role of NEITI to the transformation agenda.”
Also speaking at the workshop, the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed disclosed that NEITI’s latest industry audit reports in the oil and gas sector that covered the period 2009 to 2011 and the first NEITI audit report in the solid minerals, which covered 2007 to 2010 would be released to the public simultaneously before the end of the year.
Chairman of NEITI Board, Ledum Mitee, said NEITI would henceforth fully exercise its power under Section 3(f) of the NEITI Act that requires it to monitor and ensure that all payments due to the Federal Government from all extractive industry companies, including taxes, royalties, dividends, bonuses, penalties, levies and such like, are duly made.
He added: “For example, previous NEITI audit reports have identified potential revenue loss due to under-assessments/underpayments by covered entities amounting to over $9.8 billion or N1.3 trillion by the existing exchange rate.
“NEITI can no longer sit down and watch and allow these recoverable funds in the hands of the companies at a time the Federal Government is searching for funds to finance the deficits in the annual budgets.”
He read the riot act to defaulters, saying no entity would be spared the full weight of the law in case of defaults.
He said that the body would “invoke relevant sanctions under Section 16 of the NEITI against any company found to have rendered false information or failed to provide statements of accounts as at and when due to NEITI Industry Auditors especially in the reported cases where this resulted in under-payments and under-assessments and huge revenue loss to the Federation Account.”
Mitee stated that the relevant statutory sanctions should be invoked against relevant government agencies identified to have willingly frustrated the implementation of remedial issues in NEITI audit reports over the years.
Mitee sought the collaboration of anti-corruption agencies in the renewed bid at ensuring complying with the provisions of the law and enthronement of accountability and transparency in the nation’s oil and gas sector.