Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Nigeria: U.S.$10.8 Billion - Leadership Faults Auditor-General's Reply

In its determined effort to uncover the truth over the non-repatriation of crude oil revenue by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to the federation account as claimed by the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, LEADERSHIP has again written to the auditor-general of the federation (AuGF), Mr Samuel Ukura, for copies of the external auditor's report in his possession on audited accounts of the NNPC in the last five years (2009 to 2013).
LEADERSHIP had written to the AuGF over audited accounts of the NNPC in his possession, but he replied that his office does not audit NNPC's accounts in line with Section 85 (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). He, however, claimed that he could provide a list of qualified external auditors from which NNPC and other statutory corporations, commissions and bodies created by an Act of the National Assembly shall appoint their external auditors.
Ukura disclosed that his office faces "professional and ethical threats" in discharging its constitutional role of "carrying out the vetting and periodic checks of the accounts of government statutory corporations, commissions etc including the NNPC operations".
But, apart from the reports of NNPC's external auditors in AuGF's possession, LEADERSHIP is requesting the reports of the last five periodic checks of the NNPC accounts conducted by the AuGF in accordance with Section 85 (4) of the 1999 Constitution and the last five external auditors that submitted to him reports of the audited accounts of NNPC. The request made by LEADERSHIP is anchored on the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 2011.

Also, LEADERSHIP had written to the NNPC, CBN and the National Assembly requesting relevant information from these institutions that would help ascertain the correct position on the repatriation or non-repatriation of crude oil sales by NNPC to the federation account.
So far, none of the institutions has replied LEADERSHIP's request made over a month ago. The development is contrary to the provision of the FOI Act, 2011, which says in its Section 4 (a) that any public institution that receives an application for information has seven days to respond but can seek an extension not exceeding seven days, if it transfers the request to another public institution or the volume of document requested is large and extra time is needed to gather it. So far, NNPC, CBN and NASS have exceeded the legally required timeframe to respond and they have not consulted LEADERSHIP on how to respond to its request as specified by law.
Sanusi had in a letter dated September 25, 2013, drawn the attention of President Goodluck Jonathan to the "Non-repatriation to the Federation Account by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) of $49.8billion representing 76% of the value of crude oil lifting in 2012 and 2013". In the private letter, which later found its way into the public sphere, Sanusi told Jonathan that out of 594,024,107 barrels of crude valued at $65,332,350,514.57 lifted between January 2012 and July 2013, only $15,528,410,098.77, representing 24 per cent of the value, was remitted to the Federation Account by the NNPC, leaving $49.804 billion or 76 per cent of the value of oil lifted in the same period yet to be accounted for. NNPC's action, Sanusi said, "constitutes not only a violation of constitutional provisions but also of both the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act No. 17 of 1995 and the Pre-Shipment Inspection of Exports Act No. 10 of 1996".
However, NNPC denied Sanusi's accusations. First, it accused Sanusi of playing politics over the issue and said he lacked knowledge of the "workings of the oil and gas industry and the modality for remitting crude oil sales revenue into the Federation Account".
NNPC spokesman Omar Farouk Ibrahim said the 24 per cent of total crude oil revenue receipts which Sanusi is reported to have acknowledged that NNPC remitted represents the proceeds from the equity lifting which NNPC is directly responsible for. The alleged unremitted 76 per cent was paid to the agencies that are statutorily empowered to receive them for onward remittance into the Federation Account.
Later, in a reconciliation meeting with the coordinating minister for the economy and minister of finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and representatives of CBN, NNPC, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, the Budget Office of the Federation, and the ministries of Finance and Petroleum Resources, the amount of $10.8 billion (about N1.74trillion), being revenue shortfall recorded between January 2012 and July 2013 for domestic crude receipts, could not be reconciled. Weeks later, NNPC said the amount was part of the subsidy payments and security for oil installations.
Not satisfied with the responses and reconciliations, LEADERSHIP has continued to push for the true picture of the issue in fulfilment of its constitutional role as a media organisation as enshrined in Section 22 of Chapter 2 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

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