An anti-corruption non-governmental organisation, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has petitioned the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Lamorde, requesting his agency to “urgently begin a thorough, transparent and effective investigation into allegations that $20 billion oil money is missing from the account of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).”
The petition followed allegation last week by the Central Bank Governor, Lamido Sanusi, that “NNPC is operating a racket through which the federation has been losing billions.”
Mr Sanusi made the allegation at the resumed Senate hearing on the matter, insisting that the NNPC has yet to account for $20 billion (equivalent N3.25 trillion) from the total $67 billion oil sales receipts from January 2012 to July 2013.
SERAP in a petition dated February 7 and signed by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni said it is “concerned about the lack of accountability of the NNPC, which is not consistent with the attitude of a government establishment funded with tax payers’ money.
“This lack of accountability partly explains why ordinary Nigerians do not trust the NNPC to deal with corruption within its systems. The NNPC will need to come clean with the Nigerian people if it is to enjoy their trust and confidence.”
“We believe that the allegation that this huge sum of public money is missing coming as it were from an influential government official demands an urgent investigation from the EFCC,” the organization said.
The organization also said that, “The stealing of $20 billion from an economy already weakened by corruption will jeopardise sustainable development and hurt ordinary Nigerians who rely on the government to provide basic necessities of life such as water, good roads and electricity.”
The organization urged the EFCC to “ask the NNPC to reveal information about the systems it has established to prevent public money from being stolen or to recover the missing oil money. It is very important that the EFCC sends a strong message that it is willing and able to step up its efforts to detect, investigate and prosecute cases of corruption.”
“The EFCC should work closely together with the Senate Committee dealing with the matter, and to ensure that those suspected of involvement in the missing oil money are swiftly brought to justice, and all proceeds of corruption are recovered and returned back to the treasury,” the organization also said.
The organization said, “The allegation shows a serious breach of anti-corruption legislation and Nigeria’s international obligations including under the UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption both of which the country has ratified.”