Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), yesterday, indicted oil and gas companies operating in Nigeria of defrauding the country to the tune of $19.1 billion, about N3.82 trillion, over the last couple of months. It has therefore called on President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure the recovery of the money from the companies.
In a statement in Abuja, NEITI disclosed that the amount represents clear cases of underpayments, under-assessments of taxes, royalties, rents, among others.
According to the Executive Secretary, NEITI, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, the transfer of eight oil wells sold by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) in 2010 and 2011 was also lacking in transparency.
“The position of NEITI is that the whole transaction is not transparent. The Federal Government needs to carry out a full investigation into the sale to ascertain the actual cost of the oil blocks and revenue loss to the Federation in the whole transaction,” Ahmed said.
“Our 2012 Audit Report discovered that total dividend loans and interest repayment from LNG paid to the NNPC in 2012 was $2.8 billion. However, in the course of NEITI’s Audit NNPC was unable to provide any evidence to provide that the funds were remitted to the federation as required by law.”
“The total amount received by NNPC from LNG under the same circumstances which have not been remitted to the federation account stands at $11.6billion.”
Mrs Ahmed urged the administration of Buhari to pursue the recovery of the funds, especially now when the new administration is in dire need of funds to tackle complex problems facing the nation.
She also called for the removal of oil subsidy to save the nation from huge revenue loss and embarrassment that the management of the exercise has represented.
“It has been the position of NEITI that the oil subsidy regime is a fraud that should not be allowed to stand any longer. The amount spent so far annually is enough to repair the refineries or even build new ones. Oil subsidy should be removed,” she said.