The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) have resolved to work together to strengthen their capacities against corrupt practices as well as to promote greater transparency and accountability in the oil, gas and mining sectors.
The NEITI Executive Secretary, Zainab Ahmed, and EFCC Executive Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde, reached this resolution on Friday in Abuja.
Mrs. Ahmed, who spoke during her visit to EFCC, identified areas of possible collaboration between the two organizations, pointing out that the reports of the various audits so far conducted on the extractive industries appear ineffective tools against corruption because the agency has no powers to enforce sanctions imposed on erring operators.
Although the NEITI Act 2007 empowers it to impose sanctions on erring entities, Mrs. Ahmed lamented that NEITI does not have the capacity to
investigate and prosecute offenders.
“This is why a stronger collaboration with anti-corruption agencies like the EFCC becomes necessary,” she noted.
“A dedicated NEITI Desk in EFCC to facilitate seamless synergy between the two agencies will serve as a good first step. With such a desk, it would become easier for the EFCC to enforce the NEITI Act and investigate complaints arising from NEITI audit reports.
“It would also facilitate prompt prosecution of offenders, information sharing and capacity building for stronger inter-agency partnership. NEITI will want a Memorandum of Understanding with EFCC, the contents of which shall include collaboration to enforce the Act.”
The EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde, described the visit as the beginning of a robust working relationship between the two organizations. He lamented the inability of Nigeria to determine the revenues realised from the oil and gas sector operations, particularly the quantity of crude oil exported.
“Figures being reeled out from one agency to the other are always at variance and contradictory,” he noted. “There should be a way of determining how much revenue is being generated and what quantity of crude oil is being taken out to the international market.
“Installation of meter to see clearly how much oil is being taken out of Nigeria is a thing I think we should consider. Going forward, we are going to establish the NEITI Desk in EFCC to address issues that will come from NEITI.”
Mr. Lamorde said if the audit report generated by NEITI was religiously followed, the country would not have been where it is today, particularly as it relates to the fuel subsidy probe by the House of Representatives and the Senate.
“We are aware that NEITI has always voiced its concern on the generated revenue from oil and gas and projects funded with such revenues. It couldn’t have been better than now for us to come together to establish a stronger partnership with a view to see that we achieve the set mandate of both agencies. NEITI has the expertise in the extractive industry, while EFCC would assist with the investigation and prosecution. If the two organizations come together, they will bring very strong force to bear on some of the issues happening in the extractive industries, especially in the oil and gas sector,” he stressed.