The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has called for closer collaborations with anti-corruption and law enforcement agencies to deepen transparency and accountability in the country’s extractive industries.
The Executive Secretary of NEITI, Waziri Adio, spoke on Tuesday in Abuja at a workshop for these agencies on the extractive industries transparency initiative (EITI) process in Nigeria.
The agencies include the Nigeria Police, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and other offences Commission (ICPC), Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), Federal Ministry of Justice, among several others.
Considering the strategic importance of the extractive industries (consisting of the oil, gas and solid minerals sectors) to the survival and growth of the economy, Mr Adio said the agencies have significant roles to play towards entrenching transparency and accountability in the system.
Highlighting the benefits of a closer partnership with NEITI, the executive secretary said these agencies could help in investigating and prosecuting individuals and organisations found in NEITI audit reports to have infringed on the transparency and accountability process.
“Since NEITI began implementation of the EITI process in Nigeria in 2004, it has conducted and published nine audit reports on the oil and gas sector; seven in the solid minerals sector, while several billions of Naira have been recovered for government, with several companies identified as defaulters in respect of unremitted taxes and revenues to government,” he said.
Mr Adio said considering that NEITI’s mandate, as spelt out in its enabling Act, did not include the powers to prosecute defaulting companies, the responsibility falls on security, anti-corruption and law enforcement agencies to use the contents of NEITI to carry out further investigations and bring defaulters to account.
“NEITI’s job is to conduct the audits and publish the reports. The recommendations in the reports are circulated to government agencies, civil society groups, and the media. We have been doing this for the past 15 years.
“The role of the various security, anti-corruption, and law enforcement agencies is to take up for where NEITI stops and investigate the findings in the reports as well as enforce their recommendations. There should be synergy and partnership between NEITI and the work of the anti-corruption agencies towards entrenching transparency and accountability in the extractive industry,” he said.
The workshop was organised in collaboration with the British Council and the Rule of Law & Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) Programme funded by the European Union.
In his introductory remarks, the EU Anti-Corruption Component Manager, Emmanuel Uche, said in recognition of the impact of the work NEITI is doing in promoting transparency and accountability in the extractive industry in the country, the workshop was necessary to create better awareness and support.
Mr Uche underlined the importance of the strategic partnership and collaboration between NEITI, security and anti-corruption as well as law enforcement agencies in promoting the culture of transparency and accountability in the extractive industries.
“NEITI alone cannot achieve transparency and accountability in the extractive industries. NEITI does not have the power to investigate and prosecute defaulters. That responsibility is that of the Ministry of Justice and all the law enforcement agencies.
He urged participants to take advantage of the workshop and familiarise themselves with the NEITI process and identify areas of partnership and collaboration with the agency to ensure the people derived the best value from the continued exploitation of natural resources in the country.